Rainbows and their fans love crazy ending
It was insane. Hawaii was breaking presses, dunking, hard. Emphatically. Passionately. Rebounding. Auspiciously. Perfectly in the nick of time.
A blocked shot, and Chris Botez lost his mind, pumped his fists. Roared in the indoor night sky. Botez, who played so hard. "One heck of a ballgame for us," Riley Wallace would say.
Julian Sensley, a great game again.
Matt Lojeski was saying something to an opponent on the free-throw line, and the guy missed, and the place went mad.
The fans were losing it. Because of how it was ending. Because of what this win meant. Because of how the officiating had gone. Because the 'Bows were going to do it again. They knew it. They could feel it now.
Sensley got another rebound. Another dunk.
It was insane in the final minutes. Another one. Another great game.
"We just kept fighting," Sensley would say.
"It was an up-and-down kind of game," Riley Wallace would say.
THE SIGHT OF the University of Hawaii Rainbows playing a zone defense is, to put it simply, apocalypse-upon-us unsettling. Eerie. Disturbing. Surreal. Just wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Bottom line: It's freaking me out.
Exactly. It seems to have same effect on opposing teams.
New Mexico State couldn't handle it, last night. The Aggies had no idea what hit them.
Yes, Hawaii went zone again last night -- apparently with Riley Wallace's blessing and everything -- and it was huge in a first-half, double-digit comeback that turned the game for good.
UH forced New Mexico State into two shot-clock violations and the Stan Sheriff Center reached fever pitch with every defensive stand.
The place was rocking, during that run. The fans were in it. The fans were in The Zone.
If running the zone is wrong, they don't want to be right.
"It's never been against my nature," Wallace said.
"We practice it every day," Sensley said.
"When they see the matchups and how easy it is ... they really get fired up," Wallace said.
Hawaii went zone in the second half and Lojeski kept getting rebounds. NMSU's Ted Knauber kept missing 3s. Hawaii's big men were all in foul trouble. Didn't matter.
The Rainbows were in a zone.
"It's been our savior I think all year since we've been using it," Sensley said.
"The zone," Wallace said, "I thought kept them where we wanted them."
To say the least.
BIG WIN. Huge win.
Lojeski's four three throws in the final seconds.
"The free-throw shooting concerned me," Wallace said.
"But then you get Lojeski going 4-for-4 and that gets your average up," he said.
ALL SEASON LONG Riley Wallace has belabored the point that Deonte Tatum has, though sometimes unseen by the naked eye, given the Rainbows George Ariyoshi-like leadership. (Hint: Quiet but Effective.)
Last night, everyone knew it.
Last night, in the first half, Tatum was loud. All 11 of his points, 11 points that kept the 'Bows from getting buried. He hit 3s, he took it to the hoop on a "The Man"-type play (and one). He took a charge.
He was everywhere.
"He's the key to this whole ballclub," Wallace said. "He's got Julian happy. He's getting Ahmet (Gueye) happy. ... He knows Lojeski's game."
"He'll hit a 3 on them if they back off of him," Wallace said.
SO HERE THEY are. Another close, big win. More excitement. More SSC noise. One more to go, in the race for second in the Western Athletic Conference. The dream for postseason still alive.
"If you're a 2- or 3-seed (in the WAC tournament)," Lojeski said, "you're not on Nevada's side."
"They're starting to smell the roses," Wallace said. "They can feel the end here."
You've heard of being in the zone? It feels a little something like this.