Rebounding helped ’Bows rebound from skid
Putting the finishing touch on its defensive stands helped the Hawaii basketball team close out a losing streak.
Utah State at Hawaii
When: Monday, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: KFVE, Ch. 5
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
The Rainbow Warriors' rebounding helped them bounce back from a three-game skid with a win over San Jose State in which they cracked the 50-rebound mark for the first time since 2004.
"Rebounding is an extension of your defense," Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said. "Your defense isn't finished until you get the board."
Hawaii's 53 rebounds in Thursday's win were the most the 'Bows have posted this season and tied the Rainbows for the second-highest single-game total among Western Athletic Conference teams. Only Nevada's 54-rebound effort against Oregon State in November was higher. The last time Hawaii snared at least 50 in a game came in a double-overtime win at Tulsa in 2004.
Hawaii ranks second in the WAC with 39 rebounds per game, just behind Fresno State's average of 39.5. The 'Bows are 39th in the country in rebounding margin, with a spread of 5.7 per game.
In WAC games only, the Rainbows are the league's top rebounding team with an average of 41.7 in seven league contests and have outrebounded opponents by a conference-best 7.1 per game.
The 'Bows have lost the battle on the boards just three times this season, most recently in a loss at Boise State a week ago today. That broke a string of 11 games of outrebounding their opponents.
That streak started after the Rainbows, who start one of the tallest lineups in the WAC, were battered on the boards 45-24 in a loss at Santa Clara in late November.
"We're a huge team, we've got a bunch of good rebounders, so when we got outrebounded by a team that's smaller than us really kind of hurts," center Stephen Verwers said. "It's really a point of pride.
"Ever since that Santa Clara game where our bigs were kind of put to shame we want to outrebound each team and do our best on that end."
San Jose State certainly gave the Rainbows ample opportunity to run up a big total on Thursday by missing 47 shots, and going 6-for-31 in the first half. Hawaii allowed the Spartans, who entered the game second in the WAC in offensive rebounds, just six second-chance points.
"We've done a great job of getting offensive rebounds all year, so they did a great job on that," SJSU coach George Nessman said. "They sealed us off, we were one-and-done a lot. Their rebounding totals were inflated because we missed so many shots, but I thought they did a really good job."
Verwers led the way with a career-high 13 rebounds. He had 11 in 15 minutes off the bench in the first half, while San Jose State had 13 as a team at the break.
"I felt like I'd been playing tentative before," Verwers said. "So now I'm just really focusing on not caring who we're playing against, just going out there and playing with all my heart."
Ahmet Gueye also had 13 and guard Matt Gibson swooped in to snag nine.
The win over an SJSU team with just two wins this season got the Rainbows (11-9, 2-5) out of the WAC basement and they'll face a tougher challenge on Monday when Utah State (15-5, 4-2) visits the Sheriff Center to close out the first half of the conference schedule.
The Aggies take a five-game winning streak into today's game at Nevada and feature the WAC's leading scorer in guard Jaycee Carroll (21.1 ppg).
"Now you've got a better team that's not struggling and knows how to win," Wallace said.