DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jake Sottos of Hawaii shot over Fresno State's Dreike Bouldin last night.
Sottos stops Morris late
The senior shuts down the freshman
after being challenged by Wallace
to step up his defensive effort
For the first 1 1/2 games of his career against Hawaii, Donovan Morris owned the Rainbows.
But in Jake Sottos' final 20 minutes at the Stan Sheriff Center, he decided no more for the Fresno State freshman.
"I got challenged at halftime," Sottos said. "Coach (Riley) Wallace told me to step up and accept the challenge. I did so."
The senior guard, playing in his last home game, allowed Morris just two points after the Fresno State sharpshooter hit for 19 in the first half. It's no coincidence Hawaii won 66-59.
"I'm not going to say he was better in the second half, because he was tough the whole game," Morris said.
Bulldogs coach Ray Lopes did, though.
"They did a good job of adjusting," Lopes said. "I think they limited his touches."
As long as Hawaii and Fresno State have played basketball against each other in the Western Athletic Conference, the Bulldogs have provided a worthy -- often too worthy for Rainbow fans -- nemesis.
For some reason, the love-to-hate guys are usually guards. The dastardly list includes Chris Herren, Courtney Alexander, Damon Jackson and Shantay Legans.
For the first 20 minutes last night, it looked like Morris would become next in the line.
He made six of seven shots from the floor, including four of five from 3-point land, staking the Bulldogs to a 33-26 lead.
It was just more of the same from the first time the Rainbows and Bulldogs met this season, Dec. 29 in Fresno. Morris lit it up for 20 points on 7-for-7 shooting from the floor, with five of his baskets from beyond the arc.
Morris was just 1-for-4 after the break last night as UH in general and Sottos in particular played better defense. Morris said it wasn't a matter of him not getting the ball when he was open.
"I don't blame any of my teammates. I blame myself," Morris said. "I apologized to my teammates for the way I played after halftime."
Hawaii guard Matt Gibson got the hot hand in the second half, scoring 24 of his career-high-tying 26 points.
Gibson took over the game, but it might not have mattered without Sottos' defense; he missed nine of his 11 shots for the game, but he did his job.
"Jake's a shooter, and he knows how to handle a shooter," Gibson said. "In the first half we were worried about (Morris') total game, driving, dishing. But after his shooting in the first half, we knew he'd come out looking for his 3s."