’Bows look to put ’Dog days in the past
Hawaii has lost six straight to LaTech entering today's game at home
Hawaii's usual home-court edge hasn't applied during Louisiana Tech's recent visits.
Hawaii Vs. Louisiana Tech
When: Today, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: KFVE, Ch. 5
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
Tickets: $26 (lower level, single seats only), $22 (upper, adult), $5 (upper, students), $3 (upper, UH students), $5 (Super Rooter/Manoa Maniacs)
Promotion: Fans with tickets to the UH-Pacific baseball game are eligible for a $15 ticket to the basketball game. Tickets are for special sections, supply is limited.
The last three times the Bulldogs have landed in Honolulu they've left town with a win. Overall, LaTech has found a way to frustrate Hawaii -- whether with last-second putbacks or defensive stands, home or away -- for six straight meetings.
Hawaii coach Riley Wallace put it bluntly earlier this week.
"Louisiana Tech has owned us," Wallace said.
The Rainbows (13-10, 4-6 WAC) will take a shot at breaking the streak tonight when the Bulldogs (7-16, 5-6) visit the Stan Sheriff Center. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.
Whether Hawaii guard Matt Lojeski will be ready to start remained in question after yesterday's practice. Lojeski, who has been hobbled by a sore foot the past two days, dressed for practice yesterday but didn't do much more than shoot.
Lojeski leads the Rainbows with 16.2 points and 4.7 assists per game and has not missed a start in 51 games at UH. Riley Luettgerodt has been practicing in Lojeski's place at shooting guard the past two days of practice.
"We'll see how it is (today)," Wallace said.
Protecting their home court is a high priority for the Rainbows as they look to build momentum and improve their seeding heading toward next month's WAC tournament. They enter tonight's game in seventh place, a half-game behind LaTech and Fresno State for fifth.
Though LaTech has controlled the series since 2004, the Bulldogs haven't exactly dominated the 'Bows. None of those six wins have been by margins larger than three points.
But the Bulldogs have somehow managed to claw their way past the 'Bows by the end of the night each time.
"They're one of those teams that stay with you the whole game," said UH forward Bobby Nash, the only Rainbow who was on the team the last time UH defeated LaTech. "Then it's down to those last 2 or 3 minutes and we might have a mental lapse or one play that can change the complexion of the game. We just have to stay focused for 40 minutes."
"They're one of those teams that stay with you the whole game. Then it's down to those last 2 or 3 minutes and we might have a mental lapse or one play that can change the complexion of the game. We just have to stay focused for 40 minutes."
UH forward and the only current Rainbow who was with the team the last time Hawaii beat Louisiana Tech
In their last meeting in Ruston on Jan. 6, UH led by 12 in the first half, then trailed by 13 in the second before ultimately falling 70-67.
LaTech coach Keith Richard has enjoyed the streak, though he can't quite pinpoint why the close games have tilted the Bulldogs' way.
"All of those six could really have gone the other way, that's how close they've been. We just got to find a way to have another close one (tonight)," Richard said.
"I don't know what it is. It's one of those deals that happens in conferences sometimes where one team has gotten the better of the other for no particular reason."
Wallace credited the Bulldogs' scheme and their athletic ability for giving the 'Bows fits over the years.
"It's their style, the system, and the kind of guys he recruits," Wallace said. "What he does causes our style some trouble -- that's why we made adjustments.
"They match up well with us. All five are ballhandlers, all five can penetrate, all five can shoot."
The Rainbows have had a week to prepare for tonight's game, while LaTech arrived yesterday afternoon following a 53-50 loss at San Jose State on Thursday.
The Bulldogs scored just 13 points in the first half and had a second-half rally fall short. They shot 6-for-26 from the field in the first half before heating up to score 37 points after halftime.
"If we start like that tomorrow then we're dead," Richard said.
Hawaii has been holding opponents to 56 points per game over its last four games and will try to contain LaTech forward Chad McKenzie (13.2 ppg) and guard Trey McDowell (12.8), who scored a season-high 22 points against UH last month.
"They're a very athletic team, they've got size and they've definitely got ups," Nash said. "So they'll be a tough guard, but we're playing a new style of defense now where everybody is helping everybody else."