Balocka buzzer-beater buries LaTech


POSTED: Friday, January 30, 2009

It only took Petras Balocka about 26 seconds of game time to redeem himself. His team, however, earned road redemption after a year of futility.

Hawaii pulled off a thrilling 54-53 men's basketball win over Louisiana Tech on Balocka's putback at the buzzer in Ruston, La. It was the first road win for the Rainbow Warriors since Jan. 26, 2008.

After Balocka made a costly foul on a LaTech rebound with 26.3 seconds left—sending David Jackson to the free-throw line for two shots that tied the game at 50—the UH forward busted UH's five-game overall losing streak. He grabbed a Bill Amis miss and put the ball up and in over Tech's Kyle Gibson, the game clock expiring just after Balocka released the ball.

“;It equaled out,”; said Hawaii coach Bob Nash, who didn't think it was a bad foul.

Officials conferred for a minute in front of video monitors before awarding Hawaii (10-10, 2-6 Western Athletic Conference) the victory, which snapped a nine-game road losing streak. UH players cheered on the sideline as the decision was announced, while the sparse crowd at Thomas Assembly Center booed.





        NEXT UP
at NMSU tomorrow

Hawaii doesn't have much time to celebrate, as the Rainbows must travel all day today to get from Ruston to Las Cruces, N.M., site of tomorrow's game against New Mexico State. UH has never won a game there against the Aggies in three tries.

After the two foul shots by Jackson tied the game, Tech came right back with a bad foul that put Hiram Thompson on the line. He made both shots to put Hawaii up two—but the Bulldogs' Jamel Guyton responded with a 3-pointer to put his team ahead 53-52 with 17.8 seconds left.

Amis was the hero in Hawaii's first victory over the Bulldogs (8-13, 2-6) on Jan. 5 as he hit a baseline jumper with 7 seconds remaining to give the Rainbows a 65-64 win. After the Rainbows' play coming out of their last timeout broke down, Thompson got the ball to Amis on the left wing. His off-balance fadeaway shot was off the mark this time, but Balocka was there to clean up the mess on the opposite side.

UH moved into a tie for seventh place with Tech in the WAC standings, but now owns the tiebreaker against the Bulldogs with the series sweep. So far, the Rainbows' only league wins have come against Tech.

Roderick Flemings had a game-high 17 points, while Bill Amis added 14 and Balocka 10. Hawaii notched a season-high 11 steals in forcing 20 LaTech turnovers.

Hawaii shifted to man-to-man and shortened its rotation to outscore LaTech 13-3 to start the second half, replacing Tech's 35-30 halftime lead with a 43-38 UH cushion. The Bulldogs didn't get a field goal in the period until a Gibson runner with 10:40 to play. Hawaii held Tech to just 18 points after halftime.

“;We stayed behind closed doors and wanted to run the things we wanted to run,”; Nash said. “;We wanted to make sure we had the right people on the floor to do that.”;

Nash went with a two-point-guard lineup of Kareem Nitoto and Thompson for most of the game. Small forward Adhar Mayen (1 minute) and shooting guard Lasha Parghalava (no time) were dropped from the rotation completely. Amis, Nitoto and Flemings essentially played the whole game.

Louisiana Tech opened up in a 2-3 zone and jumped out to a 19-7 lead on 4-for-4 shooting on 3-pointers. Hawaii responded with a zone of their own and a 12-2 run to get within 23-19, and it was a tight game from that point.

WAC standings




Utah St.801.000201
Nevada52.7142 1/2 128
Boise St.53.6253146
Idaho43.5713 1/2 1010
New Mexico St.44.5004910
San Jose St.35.3755910
Louisiana Tech26.2506912
Fresno St.15.1676912



Hawaii 54, Lousiana Tech 53
New Mexico State 89, San Jose State 81
Utah State 72, Nevada 61
Idaho 63, Boise State 59

  Hawaii 54, Louisiana Tech 53
Rainbow warriors (10-10, 2-6)




Team  3



Bulldogs (8-13, 2-6)

Gibson, Ky.5-93-423133437
Gibson, Br.0-10-0000007
Team  4 

Key—fg-a: field goals made-attempted; ft-a: free throws made-attempted; rb: rebounds; pf: personal fould; pts: total points; a: assists; to: turnovers; min: minutes played.

Halftime—Louisiana Tech 35, Hawaii 30.

3-point goals—Hawaii 4-15 (Flemings 3-7, Thompson 1-2, Adams 0-1, Amis 0-1, Balocka 0-1, Nitoto 0-3), Louisiana Tech 6-17 (Guyton 4-10, Jackson 2-3, Gibson, Kyle 0-4).

Steals—Hawaii 11 (Nitoto 3, Flemings 3, Amis 3, Balocka, Thompson), Louisiana Tech 8 (Gibson, Kyle 3, Guyton, Rolle, Ashaolu, Jackson, Oliverson). Blocked shots—Hawaii 3 (Campbell, Amis, Balocka), Louisiana Tech 2 (Guyton, Rolle).

Officials—Kelly Self, Ronnie Hernandez, Randy McCall. Attendance—1,671.