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Sunday, March 6, 2005



RAINBOW BASKETBALL


art
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Julian Sensley put up a shot during last night's game against Fresno State at the Stan Sheriff Center.


Seniors walk
away winners

The Rainbow Warriors put an end
to their five-game losing streak
on senior night

Before the leis and the customary farewell tributes, the Hawaii basketball team kept another senior-night tradition alive.


HAWAII 66
FRESNO ST. 59


NEXT UP
vs. SJSU Tuesday

The Rainbow Warriors ended a five-game losing streak by sending their seniors out with a win for the sixth straight year as UH closed the regular season with a 66-59 win over Fresno State last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

UH guard Matt Gibson scored 24 of his game-high 26 points in the second half and senior forward Jeff Blackett added 14 in his final home game before a crowd of 6,222.

Blackett, forward Vaidotas Peciukas and guard Jake Sottos were honored after UH ended Fresno State's five-game winning streak against the Rainbows.

UH rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to win for the first time since beating Boise State on Feb. 16 and sent the Rainbows to this week's Western Athletic Conference tournament on a positive note.

"I challenged them at halftime to come out on senior night and play for each other, forget everything behind them and just win this ballgame so we could go to the WAC tournament with some energy, and they really answered the call in the second half," UH coach Riley Wallace said.

Both teams' seedings in the WAC tournament were determined before tipoff. The Rainbows (15-12, 7-11 WAC) secured seventh place thanks to losses by Boise State and Tulsa, while Fresno State (15-13, 9-9) claimed the fourth seed when SMU lost to Rice.

UH leaves this morning for Reno, Nev., where the Rainbows will play San Jose State in a first-round game on Tuesday. The winner plays second-seeded Texas-El Paso in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Fresno State plays Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinals.

Gibson matched his career high by hitting eight of 13 shots, including three 3-pointers, in the second half.

"We just hit a couple shots, shooters keep shooting," Gibson said. "I just take my shots when they're there."


art
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Seniors Vaidotas Peciukas, Jeff Blackett and Jake Sottos got together one last time before the crowd on senior night.


While Gibson lit up the scoreboard in the second half, the defensive efforts of forward Julian Sensley and center Chris Botez were also vital to the win.

Botez scored eight points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked four shots, while Sensley hounded Fresno State guard Ja'Vance Coleman. The Bulldogs' leading scorer made four of 18 shots from the field and finished with 12 points.

"It wasn't the shots dropping that won that game," Gibson said. "It was Chris Botez's 11 rebounds, it was Julian Sensley playing his heart out on D, shutting their primary scorer down."

Fresno State guard Donovan Morris, who was 7-for-7 from the field in the Bulldogs' 79-78 win on Dec. 29 in Fresno, made six of seven shots in the first half to account for 19 of Fresno State's 33 first-half points. But he was held to just two points after halftime.

"(Wallace) told me to step up and take the challenge on defense," Sottos said. "He's a great player and you can't give him a lot of space. He hurt us in that first half, so the second half I just tried to stay with him."

Morris' hot shooting sent Fresno State into halftime with a 33-26 lead.

Fresno State opened up its biggest lead at 39-31 at the 17:22 mark of the second half. But FSU went cold from the field and UH outscored the Bulldogs 18-3 over the next 11 minutes to take control.

Hawaii's back-court tandem of Sottos and Gibson, held to just two points in the first half, scored the Rainbows' first 12 of the second half and fueled a 9-0 run that put UH ahead 40-39.

After a 3-pointer by Coleman, the Bulldogs were held without a point for the next 7:02 and two 3-pointers by Gibson put UH ahead 55-46 with 4:29 left.

Fresno State closed to 55-52 before Gibson made a 3-pointer and a layup to stretch the lead back to eight. Gibson and Sottos combined to hit six free throws in the final minute to put the game away.

"We talked about it at halftime that Matt would be more aggressive," Fresno State coach Ray Lopes said. "We just didn't defend as well. We didn't rebound as well."

Wrapping it up: The 2005 Rainbow Basketball Awards banquet will be held April 14 at the Hawaii Prince Hotel. Tickets are $40 per person and $400 per table. No-host cocktails starts at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7. The awards program follows.


Hawaii 66, Fresno State 59

Bulldogs (15-13, 9-9 WAC)

fg fga ft fta min reb a tp
Morris 7 11 3 3 33 5 1 21
Berry 2 7 2 4 21 2 0 6
White 0 1 0 0 24 2 1 0
Coleman 4 18 2 3 32 2 4 12
Al-Sayyad 1 4 0 0 19 6 1 2
Ross 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Bell 0 1 2 2 17 4 3 2
Bouldin 3 11 1 2 23 4 0 8
O'Neil 0 2 0 0 15 2 1 0
Hernandez 3 5 0 0 15 2 0 8
TEAM




5
Totals 20 60 10 14 200 34 11 59

Rainbow Warriors (15-12, 7-11 wac)

fg fga ft fta min reb a tp
Gibson 9 18 5 6 35 4 1 26
Sottos 2 11 3 4 31 4 3 8
Blackett 5 12 4 4 39 7 2 14
Sensley 3 8 0 0 31 7 1 6
Botez 3 4 2 3 27 11 3 8
Gipson 0 0 0 0 6 4 2 0
Zivanovic 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0
Peciukas 0 3 4 4 12 0 2 4
Tatum 0 1 0 0 5 0 0 0
Nash 0 1 0 0 10 1 0 0
TEAM




3
Totals 22 58 18 21 200 41 14 66

Key -- fg: field goals made; fga: field goals attempted; ft: free throws made; fta: free throws attempted; min: minutes played; reb: rebounds; a: assists; tp: total points.
Halftime -- FSU 33, Hawaii 26
3-point goals -- FSU 9-27 (Morris 4-7, Hernandez 2-4, Coleman 2-13, Bouldin 1-3), Hawaii 4-16 (Gibson 3-7, Sottos 1-8, Sensley 0-1). Personal fouls -- FSU 20, Hawaii 19. Fouled out -- Botez. Technical fouls -- Hernandez.
Steals -- FSU 9 (Berry 2, Bouldin 2, Coleman 2, Bell, Morris, O'Neil), Hawaii 7 (Blackett 2, Sensley 2, Botez, Gibson, Sottos). Blocked shots -- FSU 2 (Al-Sayyad, Morris), Hawaii 9 (Botez 4, Blackett 3, Sensley 2). Turnovers -- FSU 20 (White 5, Coleman 4, Morris 4, Al-Sayyad 2, Bell 2, Ross 2, O'Neil), Hawaii 18 (Gibson 4, Sottos 4, Nash 3, Sensley 2, Blackett, Botez, Gipson, Peciukas, Tatum). Officials -- Christman, Batsell, Barr. A -- 8,065.

WAC standings


WAC Overall

W L Pct. GB W L
Nevada 16 2 .889 -- 24 5
UTEP 14 4 .778 2 24 7
Rice 12 6 .667 4 18 10
Fresno State 9 9 .500 7 15 13
SMU 9 9 .500 7 14 13
Louisiana Tech 9 9 .500 7 14 14
Hawaii 7 11 .389 9 15 12
Boise State 6 12 .333 10 13 17
Tulsa 5 13 .278 11 9 19
San Jose State 3 15 .167 13 6 22

Yesterday
Nevada 73, San Jose St. 69
Louisiana Tech 91, Tulsa 82
Rice 80, SMU 75, 2OT
UTEP 78, Boise State 64
Hawaii 66, Fresno St. 59



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