Rainbows were just plain sloppy
"I know I'm ugly. On Halloween when I open the door the kids give me candy."
-- Rodney Dangerfield
IT was ugly. How ugly? It was "my mother had morning sickness after I was born" ugly. Ooh that's ugly, I tell ya.
There was dropping the ball -- for no visible reason, it seemed -- off one's foot. There were loose balls that slipped away, opportunities missed. There was traveling. There were calls -- oh, there were calls. After one first-half call in particular Riley Wallace raised his arms, Bob Nash held his head. After the replay on the big screen, boos rained down from above.
But those calls weren't the main thing, really (though the intentional foul at the end that took away any chance of Hawaii winning was over the top). "It's not the ref's fault," Dominic Waters would say. "We gotta fight." The Rainbows were getting beat up and they were getting beat. It was an ugly, ugly game and UNLV was just better (Betty?) at being ugly, that's all.
"It was their defense early," Wallace said, "that set the tempo for the game."
The shooting percentages were similarly horrific. But UNLV knew how to play this way. The 'Bows were getting killed on the boards. Just killed.
"We just weren't getting physical," Waters said. "We weren't banging."
"There's nobody nasty on this team at all," Riley Wallace would say. It's a nice problem to have, but it's still a problem. Too many good guys.
"This team has a funny personality," Wallace would say.
"Somebody plays you that hard you've got to grind it out," he said.
Then, in the second half there was life. At last. Matt Lojeski a 3 with 6:30 to pull the Rainbows to within five. Then Ahmet Gueye, a tough board. Then the next trip down, a block.
Bobby Nash, a Rodman tip to keep an offensive board alive and more 'Bows pogo sticking, a couple of more times, and finally P.J. Owsley put it in. Now it was three.
Nash was tough in that second half. A steal, and a loose ball, and a hard-fought rebound that he took and turned into a baseline J. Then a 3, and a scream, a long loud one, letting all the emotion out. Two free throws. Through the ugliness, he was keeping UH in this game.
These 'Bows were tougher, in that second half.
Tougher. Gueye was himself in this second half. The old Gueye. Gueye classic. Rebounds. A putback. Big blocks. Two clutch charity shots to make it one. "He wasn't with us," Wallace said of Gueye's troubles earlier in the game. Now he was.
Matt Gibson, a 3 to beat the shot clock, all tied up.
"We just didn't finish the game once we got there," Wallace said.
"We didn't decide to get hungry until the second half," Waters said.
"In the first half you score 18 points, you're not really ready to play," Bobby Nash said.
"We didn't compete for 40 minutes tonight. We competed for probably 20," Waters said.
A controversial intentional foul ended all hope. The last call, the last straw. There were boos as the buzzer sounded. Someone threw some rolled-up paper on the court. It was ugly, to the very end.