FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Matt Gibson leads Hawaii in 3-pointers with 38, a total matched or bettered by four Long Beach State players.
Rainbows rested for visit to LBSU
Hawaii tries to snap its skid tonight vs. the Big West leader
The Hawaii basketball team is looking to shoot its way out of its slump from long range to give itself a shot against a team that thrives on the 3-pointer.
Hawaii at Long Beach State
When: Today, 5:05 p.m. Hawaii time
Where: Walter Pyramid
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
After hitting a season-high 12 3-pointers a week ago today, the Rainbow Warriors enter tonight's nonconference game at Long Beach State on a cold streak from beyond the arc, making six of their last 37 attempts.
Still, Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said he doesn't want the 'Bows to pull back on shooting the 3, as long as the shots come within the flow of the offense.
"We worked all last night with them shooting," Wallace said yesterday. "We have to shoot the ball -- you just have to take good shots and they have to shoot with confidence."
The Rainbows (14-12) hope to regain their shooting touch as they complete a stretch of four games in eight days against the 49ers (18-6), the Big West Conference leaders.
Tipoff at the Walter Pyramid, where Long Beach State is 10-0 this season, is set for 5:05 p.m. Hawaii time.
Hawaii and Long Beach State were matched up through being part of the pool of 102 teams entered in the ESPN BracketBusters event, although today's game wasn't one of the 11 selected for the network's televised package. The arrangement calls for Long Beach State to play a return game in Honolulu next season.
The Rainbows arrived in Long Beach on Thursday following Wednesday's loss at Utah State and had a chance to catch their breath during a hectic week of travel.
"They got a lot of rest (before yesterday's practice) and they're all healthy again," Wallace said.
The Rainbows also got assistant coaches Bob Nash and Alika Smith back in time for the workout at the Pyramid. Both were ill on Thursday and missed the team's practice that night.
The Rainbows and 49ers have been on different tracks lately. Hawaii is on a two-game skid following Wednesday's 58-50 loss at Utah State, and has lost three of its last four.
Long Beach State, under fifth-year coach Larry Reynolds, is riding a five-game winning streak and has won 16 of its last 18. The 49ers beat Cal State Fullerton 94-84 on Wednesday and are closing in on the Big West regular-season title.
The teams last met in the opening round of the 2004 Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic, with Hawaii pulling out a 54-45 win on a cold shooting night for both teams.
Putting points on the board hasn't been a problem for Long Beach State the past two seasons. The 49ers' up-tempo attack led the nation in scoring at 83.3 points per game last year. This season, they're averaging 78.3 points, good for 23rd in the country.
Guard Kejuan Johnson and center Mark Dawson served three-game suspensions earlier this month during a review of their eligibility by the NCAA. They have since been reinstated, with Johnson resuming his role as one of the 49ers' top scorers.
Guard Aaron Nixon leads Long Beach State at 17.4 points per game, followed by Johnson at 15.7.
Hawaii's 133 3-pointers ranks eighth in the Western Athletic Conference, while Long Beach State has made 200. Matt Gibson leads the Rainbows with 38 treys; LBSU has four players with at least that many, led by Nixon's 55.
Hawaii has played several smaller and quicker teams this season, such as UNLV, although Wallace said the 49ers incorporate more motion in their offensive sets.
"We'd like to play more of a halfcourt game," Wallace said.
"We have to stop their transition, and if we can get back it looks like we can cover with the defense we've been playing."
The Rainbows will counter with a height advantage at all of the starting spots. Long Beach State's tallest starters are 6-foot-6 forwards Sterling Byrd and Dominique Ricks.
UH doesn't start anyone shorter than Gibson at 6-5. Joining him on the floor will be 6-6 Matt Lojeski and Bobby Nash and 6-8 forwards Ahmet Gueye and P.J. Owsley.
Note: Tonight's game is being billed as "Blackout Night," with LBSU fans encouraged to wear black shirts to the game. ... The Rainbows are scheduled to return tomorrow and have a few days at home before heading back on the road next Thursday for a game at San Jose State a week from today.