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Warriors bust again in Reno

If there’s anything the Hawaii basketball team wants to leave behind in 2010, it’s the road.

Nevada defeated the Warriors, 86-69, in a forgettable Western Athletic Conference game at the Lawlor Events Center at Reno, Nev., on New Year’s Eve.

It was the 14th consecutive road loss for Hawaii, and the Warriors also remained winless (0-14) against Nevada in games played in Reno.

Hawaii lost both games on this road trip to drop its records to 9-5 overall and 0-2 in the WAC. The Wolf Pack improved to 4-10 and 1-0.

“Win, lose or draw we’ve always come to play and we’ve played hard … we didn’t play hard tonight,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. “So that one’s on me and I’ll take it.”

The 86 points by Nevada was the most points surrendered by Hawaii this season.

Other than that, the Warriors did not have a poor statistical game. Hawaii shot 42.6 percent from the field (Nevada shot 46.9 percent), grabbed 38 rebounds (to Nevada’s 40), and went 19 of 27 on free throws (to Nevada’s 16 of 24). The Warriors committed 15 turnovers, but it only led to 17 points for Nevada.

The difference, according to Arnold, may have been energy.

“It seemed like those guys were moving much quicker than we were,” Arnold said. “They were quicker to the ball, they were much higher on the rebounds. It just seemed like we were always a step behind … 69 (points) is enough to win any game we play. It’s the 86 (by Nevada) that I’m most bothered about.”

Overshadowed by the loss was a double-double performance by sophomore center Vander Joaquim. He had his best game as a Warrior with 22 points and 13 rebounds. He shot 8 of 13 from the field and 6 of 8 on free throws.

Hiram Thompson added 14 points, Zane Johnson scored 10, and Joston Thomas contributed nine points and eight rebounds. Johnson entered the game averaging 15.2 points per game, but was limited to 3-of-5 shooting as the Nevada defense focused on denying him the ball.

The game was close for the first 13 minutes –and was even tied at 16 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half – but Nevada ran away in the second half. The Wolf Pack had a 24-22 lead when it went on a 13-3 surge to increase the advantage to 37-25.

The Wolf Pack then closed the first half with an 8-1 run to take a 45-29 lead at intermission. As an indication of the way things were going, Malik Story hit an off-balance 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to give Nevada the 16-point lead.

Story drained four more 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the second half to put Nevada ahead by 25 points at 61-36 with 16:26 remaining. Hawaii never got closer than 17 the rest of the game.

“It’s upsetting,” Arnold said. “I didn’t like what I saw out there. It doesn’t mean we’re broken. It means we’re wounded but we’re going to get better, and we’re going to fix it.”

Dario Hunt led Nevada with 23 points and nine rebounds, and Olek Czyz also scored 23. Story finished with 18 points and 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point range.

The Warriors are scheduled to return to Honolulu on New Year’s Day. Their next game is scheduled for Jan. 6 against Idaho in the Stan Sheriff Center.

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