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UPDATED: New Mexico State holds off Warriors, 92-81, in WAC semifinal

LAS VEGAS — In a galiant fight to the finish, the Hawai’i basketball team got off the canvas after an early knockdown and staged an inspiring rally Friday night but eventually got out-punched by New Mexico State, 92-81, in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals at The Orleans Arena.

The Warriors end their roller coaster season at 16-16, with a return bid to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament not expected. The Aggies improved to 25-9 and advance to Saturday’s championship game against surprising Louisiana Tech (18-15), which upset top seed Nevada, 78-73, in the other semifinal.

“I’m really proud of this group, they represented themselves, the university and the state of Hawai’i with great pride,” UH coach Gib Arnold said. “I told them they have nothing to be ashamed of, we lost to a very good team. That’s an excellent and talented team that plays just as well as anyone in the country. I coached in the Pac-10 for five years, and they’re as good as the teams I saw there. Obviously it hurts, and it should hurt, but the future is bright for the University of Hawai’i.”

The Warriors’ immediate future looked bleak early Friday night, as New Mexico State sprinted to a stunning 17-0 lead in the first 4:40, mostly on easy fast-break layups or wide-open 3-point shots. Hawai’i, which committed only seven turnovers in Wednesday’s 72-70 upset of Idaho, lost the ball six times in the first seven minutes as the Aggies took a 22-2 lead on Tshilidzi Nephawe’s three-point play with 13:58 remaining.

“I thought a lot of that (run) was defensive transition, we had missed shots or shots blocked and they came out running,” Arnold said. “They’re such a great rebounding team that a miss to them isn’t like a miss to everyone else, a miss to them is almost like an assist. And we’ve got two guys who are 5-8 in there trying to rebound against the Golden State Warriors. It’s tough, those guys are huge. We didn’t get a chance to play a set defense. So after that first five minutes, I told our guys to forget about offensive rebounds and just run back so we can play a set defense. When (the Aggies) have to play against a set defense, their shooting percentage drops down dramatically.”

The lead was 38-20 after Wendell McKines’ 3-point basket with 5:44 left, but Vander Joaquim answered with a layup 13 seconds later to start the Warriors on a 12-0 run that closed the gap to 38-32 after freshman guard Shaquille Stokes’ second straight 3-pointer with 3:20 remaining. It was 44-38 with under a minute left before Hernst Laroche’s 3-pointer with 43 seconds remaining put New Mexico State ahead, 47-38, at the break.

“The first five minutes was tough, we weren’t hitting any shots, but we kept fighting together,” said Stokes, who tied his season high with 21 points. “Everyone was still on the same page and we knew if we stuck to Coach’s game plan, we’d get back in the game and that’s what we did.”

UH opened the second half with a 6-1 run to cut it to 48-44 on Stokes’ floater in the lane, and after New Mexico State scored five straight points to go up, 53-44, the Warriors later used an 8-2 surge to close it to 61-60 on Hauns Brereton’s baseline jumper with 10:36 left in the game.

But Laroche answered 20 seconds later by draining a 3-point basket from the top of the arc and was fouled by Miah Ostrowski, so the Aggies suddenly stretched the lead to 65-60 after he converted the rare four-point play.

“I thought that was the turning point of the game.” Arnold said. “I felt that after the bleeding stopped at 22 to (2), we started playing really good and I felt great going into the locker room, I thought we could make a run. We came out in the second half and changed some things, they started calling timeouts and that was a good sign. We cut the lead to one, and that was a great sign. Then that kid hits a 3 real quick and we foul him, that was a bad sign. But we didn’t give up even then.”

After a thunderous fast-break slam dunk by Brereton closed it to 65-62 with 8:57 remaining, New Mexico State later pushed the lead to 76-68 on a three-point play by McKines with 5:31 showing. The Warriors again responded, drawing to 76-73 on Trevor Wiseman’s putback with 4:44 left, but the Aggies effectively sealed the victory with a 9-2 run capped by Laroche’s free throws that made it 85-75 with 1:36 remaining.

Garrett Jefferson’s layup closed it to 85-77 eight seconds later, but New Mexico State scored the next five points to put the game out of reach.

With Hawai’i short on timeouts, Arnold said he resorted to substituting by possession — Wiseman and Jefferson on defense and Joston Thomas and Brereton for offense — from about the five-minute mark.

“We were dead tired, so I wanted to keep fresh legs in there,” Arnold said.

The exhaustive effort did not go unnoticed by the Aggies, nor with fans and media who praised the Warriors’ gutsy performance with career 3-point goal leader Zane Johnson back at home recovering from mononucleosis.

“That was a tough game, it took a lot out of us,” New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies said. “I give all the props to Hawai’i, they did a fantastic job and Gib coached his heart out. We always like to throw the first punch, and with their scorer Johnson out and coming off an emotional game yesterday, I thought they might be a little fragile so we thought we could make a statement early — especially on defense — and maybe get them rattled. But that didn’t happen, and they did a fantastic job fighting back. For them to lose to us by 40 points (115-73) at our place and then still come out with this kind of passion, it speaks volumes about where (Arnold) has taken this program.”

McKines finished with a game-high 22 points to lead four other Aggies in double figures: Laroche (18), Nephawe (15), Tyrone Watson (13) and freshman Daniel Mullings, who added a game-high 10 rebounds to go with his 12 points.

Joaquim finished with 17 points, Brereton and Wiseman each added 10 points and Ostrowski contributed six points and ended his UH basketball career with a career-high 13 assists. Ostrowski and Johnson are the team’s only seniors; Joaquim, Brereton and Thomas are juniors and Wiseman is a sophomore.

“We’re gonna be a good team next year,” said Joaquim, who was the first Warrior to make the All-WAC first team since Julian Sensley in 2006. “We’re gonna work hard in the off-season to fix the things we did wrong and get better.”

Stokes, who finished the tournament with a team-high 38 points in two games, is already looking forward to the 2012-2013 campaign.

“We have a great coaching staff, they’re gonna put every one of us in a position to succeed, and I learned a lot from Miah, he’s one of the great point guards I’ve played with,” Stokes said. “It’s gonna be a fun season. It’s going to be exciting to watch the University of Hawai’i play.”

(WarriorInsider.com photos by Brandon Flores)

To view more photos from the game, please visit our facebook page at www.facebook.com/WarriorInsider

23 Comments

  1. Thank you again Dayton, Wes and staff and all your sponsors. Great site, terrific reporting…can’t wait for recruiting updates and summer league play. I believe this team will be really good next year, you can’t fault them for not having great heart and passion these two WAC tourney games,..great warriors till the end…after game press conference , extreme class by Gib , Van, Shaq. …even media questions to them very respectful ,,great feeling , even after loss…class group of young men and young coach!

    Mahalo in behalf of a host of Rainbow Warrior fans

  2. Considering how badly New Mexico State dispatched LA Tech in the Championship Game, we have no reason to hang our heads.. I wouldn’t be surprised if New Mexico State wins a game or two in the Big Dance.. Hopefully Gib can recruit the kind of horses that NMSU has.. Those guys are just scary athletic..

  3. …and Maybe Hawai’i already was (this week) the Second Best Performing Team in the WAC Tourney — the only one to really challenge NMSU …

    HOPE The Roster Can make Space for Two or Three MORE Potential or even “For Sure” IMPACT Players — That can usually WIN The Point Battle and Consistently Shoot/Score Lights Out — GIB’s Conviction for Recruiting MUST BE Burning Really Bright About Now …Don’t You Think he’s likely To GET the Next One or Two “Players” He REALLY Wants ?

    ————

    AGREE — Thanks, Dayton, Wes, Pacific Risk & Family

    Mahalo Coaches & Players for an Exciting Season — We’d All Rather Ride Rockets Straight Up than Roller Coasters — AND The Future DOES Look Bright …

    WITH The Talent Coming Back and a Couple of Key Recruits — Next year with the Dominant Seniors ‘Could Be’ A MONEY Year … where we Build and Cash in BIG TIME !

  4. You all act like they dont aready have talent. They were in the top 50 on almost all stats. They just needed to keep their turnovers down. Next year looks promising.

  5. Sorry for the Loss but congrats for the plays giving national attention to the Hawaii Basketball program. Was at University of Louisville, KY and so many people were talking about the ESPN Highlights and the player from Hawaii. That was a face of a Warrior!

  6. I am so grateful to this site and all the hard work that went into it. Also grateful to the team and coaches. Take Hans Brereton’s monster dunk and expression and use it as momentum into next year’s team. We get’em next year. Mahalo

  7. Becker — There is Much Talent, Returning (“Proven”), Redshirting and in the Signed Recruits ….(as noted in other posts)

    Coach Gib AND His Mentor Tim Floyd of UTEP have previously flagged that (including Zane and Miah on this year’s team, this was early season) UH was still a good point guard and lights out shooter/scorer away from having a complete team …

    i take that now to include the Need for TWO Shooters — maybe Brandon Jawato counts as one, maybe Orel Lev can be the other — maybe development from a current player or two as well — but generally i considered they were referring to a proven player, i.e., a Zane versus a Bo Barnes (who folded as a freshman when the heat and Conference Play was on … );

    As Well as a Proven Scorer — that might be Hauns or Joston if they get up to the upper teens (or above in average… they “can”) … but i’m also considering this to be more like a DeShawn Mitchell who could create his own shots, score over just about “any team”, any time …

    Happy Hunting, Coaches !

  8. Does this mean Gerry Blakes will be a Warrior this fall semester? Anyone know if he will be academically qualified by then? scholarship for him? or has Gib given up on him.??

  9. if we can bring in a anthony marshall from unlv or tu holloway, mark lyons from xavier we could be pretty good

  10. Like others have said, props to Dayton, Wes and Brandon — and, of course, Pacific Risk Solutions — for making this site the place to go for UH basketball news, photos and videos. That pix of Hauns’ facial dunk is special. Brandon ought to sell it to UH for its media guide cover … if they still produce those. Barring any unexpected player losses, next season could be special. Could use a slasher/scorer, and while it’ll be tough replacing Miah, I think Shaq and Jace should be fine. Thanks again for all the hard work.

  11. Dayton:

    Would you consider having a question /answer video report with Coach Gib. A summary of how this season went. Would he have coached any differently? Would he consider good sophmore JC players who are wings or combo guards who can score/slash /defend/rebound and most importantly for whole team shoot 70% or better from free throw stripe? A definitive list of who is coming back and who is coming in, or should we wait until the first game in Novemeber 2012?

    Thanks Dayton. Mahalo to Warrior Insider, sponsors and staff. Great Work.!!!

  12. This is the end of any connection to the past coach, Nash, with the graduation of Zane. From this point on, Gib should be judged for his recruiting and graduation of the players he recruited. The way the team folded down the stretch is a good indication that there were issue of leadership from the coach. It is a sad state of basketball in Hawaii when the team plays hard but lose and the fans are happy. Gib has promise to build a championship program, but in his two years I don’t see a well laid foundation or recruits, who are program changers. It is time to show us and stop the gift gab.

  13. Just wanted to echo the sentiments of those who are thanking the Warrior Insider’s staff and sponsors. This is a go-to site for me during the season and, even more importantly, during the off-season for Warrior Basketball updates and highlights. Hard to believe this year’s season is over but I’m already looking forward to next season, so keep those updates coming!

  14. Q For Coach Gib & Staff:
    Any relevance to the loose talk about Isaac Fotu Qualifying?

    The ONLY ‘Fact’ i’ve heard or seen so far is that he just didn’t clear (presumably the NCAA Clearinghouse) in time to enroll for spring semester.

    CONJECTURE ONLY: International recruit issues could involve equivalency of classes, English as a second language, just getting ‘proper’ (enough of the right) documentation, court-time with “PROS”, Stipends, Pay, etc. [Clarifying: HAVE NOT heard a single ‘specific’ to indicate any ‘real’ problem].

    Looking for Awesome News on or a little after National Letter of Intent Days …

  15. Dayton,
    Can you provide the readers with an updates on the recruits UH has signed and if the coaching staff see any issues with there enrollment ? Last season we got excited about the new recruits but 4 out of 6 didn’t enroll because of academics.
    I think it’s fair to the loyal fans to know what the team will look like for the future, we support the team either way but tell us the truth on whose going to be enrolling. I read that Tofu was playing pro in New Zealand, is this true? Great coverage this season and Mahalo to you and your sponsors for providing us with the inside look at UH basketball.

  16. I took a couple of days for R&R after the WAC Tournament and just got back to Hawaii, so sorry for the late responses.

    We’ll be posting some new stuff later this week, including Davis Rozitis’ DaBeast Films from Las Vegas.

    Thanks to all for the questions and I hope to get around to them with Gib Arnold eventually.

    Thanks to everyone for their support of WarriorInsider.com this season.

    A special mahalo to the WarriorInsider team of Dean Shimamoto, Brandon Flores and Wes Nakama for assisting with coverage last week (and throughout the season).

    And the biggest THANK YOU to Tony Schmidt at Pacific Risk Solutions and Valerie Schmidt at Ameriprise Financial for the travel sponsorship that made coverage of the WAC Tournament possible for WarriorInsider.com.

  17. As a top notch recruiter, what player( s) would Gib name as his blue clip player on this years roster? Vander was recruited by Walter, so he doesn’t count. Looking back over all the players who was interest in UH, as reported by this site, they all selecting other schools.I think Wiseman, Miles, Brereton, Roztis and Stokes are all low level player, who are just good enough to get you beat. Thomas is a talented player but he is too inconsistent to carry a team. What does Tyler Brown bring to the team, I know he is a walk on but a trip to China and all the money wasted to carry him on the road trips. How is it that a red shirt is traveling with the team or is the player from Isreal burn a half of a year. There is talk about UH cutting players and bring in replacement players, if these are Gib top notch recruits, why would he want to replace them. During Nash’s time as a coach, there was a lot of talk about APR scores, has the rules change to allow a program to cut players or not graduate them without penalties. Gib just completed his second season with a respectable winning record, but let not forget that a couple of those wins were against non D 1 teams and the other wins were aginst teams with RPI of above 200. All I hear is Gib is building for the future this seem to be a way of keeping the fans a bay. Gib should present his plan to the fans so we know what to expect for the next season.
    I expected the team to be in post season play this year, base on last season success and the promising recruiting class. Ok I’m done, I just hate to see all these other teams in some tournaments and UH is basketball is done for the year after a promising start to the season. I would like to read what other think of my comments. Mahalo

  18. Bringing “Walk-ons” or redshirts on the road is probably a coaches’ choice (not considered a waste of money) — to prep the team, you need practice players and bringing redshirts helps in their own development and understanding of what they’ll be up against when it’s their turn to play (including class make-up and study on the road).

    The upper echelon D-1 teams can bring in ‘ready-to-play’ recruits — and hopeful, had the kind of skills he has now, after two years’ worth of UH & Angola Team “coaching-up” and D-1 + International Experience, he would have been recruited to (and probably sign with) Bigger Named Programs. You can either find, recruit and sign ’em OR you may have to utilize your coaching skills to develop them yourself — that is also part of what Gib’s efforts to bring in four and five year players is about. Several of the names you mentioned fit into that category — that you may need to evaluate them where they’ve developed and contribute as juniors or seniors … some may never earn significant (impact) court time — that happens in many, probably most, programs (Under-worked or under-realized potential is one of the most common cliches in sports — but with performances from Vander, Joston, Shaq, Hauns & Miah among the best at least in WAC, all with key shots or stats or 15 point plus games. UH has probably done better than average in only two start-up seasons)…

    IF you or anyone can help bring a Ready-For D-1 player in, Please Do It for All of Us (within the rules, of course)…

    For Ferd Lewis REF today’s Star Advertiser: What’s the point of NOT Counting UH Home Games in the Diamond Head Classic — go ahead and deduct the revenues — BUT Average Home Attendance is — as far as i’ve ever heard — the Average of ALL “Home Games” — COUNT ‘EM — they are an accurate reflection of the Quality of Teams brought in and the Level of Fan Interest in the program, however or whoever is arranging the teams … Be an Accurate (and Complete) Bean Counter …

  19. [RE-Posted to Correct/Edit Errors — Please Delete Previous — Thanks]

    Bringing “Walk-ons” or redshirts on the road is probably a coaches’ choice (not considered a waste of money) — to prep the team, you need practice players and bringing redshirts helps in their own development and understanding of what they’ll be up against when it’s their turn to play (including class make-up and study on the road).

    The upper echelon D-1 teams can bring in ‘ready-to-play’ recruits — and hopefully UH will have some or more soon as well. IF Vander for example, had the kind of skills he has now, after two years’ worth of UH & Angola Team “coaching-up” and D-1 + International Experience, he would have been recruited to (and probably sign with) Bigger Named Programs. You can either find, recruit and sign ‘em OR you may have to utilize your coaching skills to develop them yourself — that is also part of what Gib’s efforts to bring in four and five year players is about. Several of the names you mentioned fit into that category — that you may need to evaluate them where they’ve developed and contribute as juniors or seniors … some may never earn significant (impact) court time — that happens in many, probably most, programs (Under-worked or under-realized potential is one of the most common cliches in sports — but with performances from Vander, Joston, Shaq, Hauns & Miah among the best at least in WAC, all with key shots or stats or 15 point plus games. UH has probably done better than average in only two start-up seasons)…

    IF you or anyone can help bring a Ready-For D-1 player in, Please Do It for All of Us (within the rules, of course)…

    For Ferd Lewis REF today’s Star Advertiser: What’s the point of NOT Counting UH Home Games in the Diamond Head Classic — go ahead and deduct the revenues — BUT Average Home Attendance is — as far as i’ve ever heard — the Average of ALL “Home Games” — COUNT ‘EM — they are an accurate reflection of the Quality of Teams brought in and the Level of Fan Interest in the program, however or whoever is arranging the teams … Be an Accurate (and Complete) Bean Counter …

  20. LEE STFU, when team chemistry is down. not even the best coaches can turn that around late in season. Ask Dave Shoji 2010, loss to Utah State……..

  21. Very Clear and Direct, Josh …

    i actually think Gib (remarkably, ‘cos i thought it might be too late to recover “legs” and spirit) did an awesome job of re-capturing the team — Really Hard to Do — only NMSU was better @ WAC Tourney and not by much — two or three days later might have had a better result…

    Similar
    MORE to FERD — IF WE COUNT The Diamond Head Classic (as SHOULD’VE Been Done to “Paint a RESPONSIBLE & Accurate Picture — NOT the Usual Half-Truth Slanted Doom & Gloom @^*% of someone “? Jealous of Someone Else’s EARNED Salary?”, Attendance was likely UP 200 to 400 per game …

  22. According to NCAA rules redshirts are not allowed to travel with the team on away games. My point about Taylor is he was invited to walk on by Gib to fill roster spots when his high profile recruits fail to qualify academically. This seem to be done to have enough players to travel to China. Why not give those opportunities to our local talent.
    When Gib earn his way into the NCAA or NIT I will than respect his coach ability. He should be very thankful that Riley Wallace was in a position to help UH athletics and Gib. Without Riley help of the post season for The Warriors, I don’t think Gib would have gotten the raise. No one else was knocking on Gib’s door to play in their post season tournament.
    I think Riley would have put the team in this season, if UH Athletics wasn’t cash scrap from the poor performance at the gates of football, men’s Volleyball and women basketball.

  23. Good to See Riley helping Gib … and…

    June helping Norm … and

    Les helping Mike Trapasso …

    Dave helping Scott Wong & Charlie Wade …

    in whatever ways they can …

    The Total is Far Greater than the Sum of the Parts …

    NO ONE IS Successful By Themselves …

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