After feasting on Texas-Pan American, Detroit Mercy, Portland and Alabama State to get off to a 4-0 start, Rainbows head coach Riley Wallace found the first loss of the season to St. Mary's hard to digest.
"We knew we weren't going to be undefeated this season, but you hate to give up a game like that, especially at home" he said yesterday of the 56-51 setback in the title game of the PowerBar Invitational Saturday night.
"St. Mary's is a good team, I don't want to take away from them, but we beat ourselves."
A blown blockout on a late free throw and a questionable out-of-bounds call especially hurt, both late in the game.
But Wallace looked at the whole picture and didn't point any fingers.
"We shouldn't have gotten boxed out on that free throw," he said. "And the replay showed he was out of bounds, but you have to live with those calls.
"They shut down our transition game and then they jumped into that zone, which gave us problems."
Wallace said that the Rainbows have to attack the zone by slashing and cutting - not just by firing away from the outside and hoping to get hot.
"We're not just a shooting team this year," he said. "So we have to create closer shots and get some layups (against the zone)."
Alika Smith, who went into the St. Mary's game with a team-leading 21.0 scoring average, was held to 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field.
"Alika didn't find his offense," Wallace said. "He's our best outside shooter and has to step up."
Micah Kroeger, who had been banging the offensive boards, was held to four defensive rebounds and just two points. He had been averaging 10.
Anthony Carter scored 14 points, but his assists were way down with just one.
Overall, the Rainbows shot a poor 33 percent in the game, compared to the combined 51 percent in the four victories.
"Obviously, the quality of the opponent was a big difference," Wallace said. "They are kind of a mirror to us, a good transition team."
He was pleased with the Rainbows' hustle, if not the execution.
"We've played hard all five games," he said. "But we have to be more patient on the break."
The Hawaii-Nike Festival is up next for the Rainbows, who will face Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo in the tournament opener Friday at 7 p.m. at the Special Events Arena.
Ball State takes on Alabama-Birmingham at 9 p.m. and the winners and losers square off Saturday night, with the Rainbows again playing at 7 p.m.