Rainbow Warriors bulldoze Bulldogs


POSTED: Friday, February 06, 2009

After hiding in the dark of the Western Athletic Conference basement, Hawaii can see the light.

The Rainbow Warriors dominated last-place Fresno State 69-43 before a White-Out crowd of 3,234 last night at the Stan Sheriff Center, ensuring they remained out of the conference cellar.

UH (11-11, 3-7 WAC) held the Bulldogs (9-14, 1-7) to a 10-point first half and the lowest total of a Rainbows opponent since Fresno scored only 42 at the Save Mart Center in 2006-07. Hawaii shot 50.9 percent and was also dominant on the backboards, with a 49-22 rebounding advantage.

A particularly spry Roderick Flemings led the Rainbows with a complete game of 14 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. He even took a couple of charges, earning a good-natured barb on improved defense from UH coach Bob Nash in the postgame conference.

“;That's what we ask of our main guys: do your job,”; Nash said. “;Whether it's rebounding, scoring, assists, he's just stepping up and making plays for us.”;

After Louisiana Tech's victory at Nevada earlier last night, the game at the Stan Sheriff Center became a battle of the bottom two teams in the WAC standings. But things were effectively over after the first 10 minutes, when Hawaii jumped out to a 24-4 lead on a slick Flemings bounce pass to forward Bill Amis for a dunk on a fast break.

The Bulldogs played the Rainbows relatively even from that point, but the damage was done and UH coasted to its fifth straight win at home over FSU. Hawaii remained tied with LaTech for seventh place.

Another Flemings highlight included a lob to point guard Kareem Nitoto (12 points, six rebounds) for a tip shot above the rim to make it 30-10.

“;Coach was telling us, 'Don't let up,' “; Flemings said. “;They're an athletic team. They could come back any time.”;

It didn't happen. One of the only negatives for UH came when Amis (10 points) went out with a tweaked ankle with 16 minutes to play. He didn't return, but Nash said he was well enough to come in if needed.

Fresno State played without suspended point guard Dwight O'Neil, one of the WAC's top playmakers, for the third straight game. It was obvious the Bulldogs missed him as they shot 3-for-25 (12 percent) in the first half with no assists. They finished at a putrid 26.9 percent.

O'Neil's absence might not have mattered. Hawaii hammered Fresno inside for a 36-14 domination of points in the paint and 15-8 advantage in second-chance points.

Fresno State coach Steve Cleveland was despondent after the game, calling it “;the worst evening we've had this year.”;

“;I didn't see this coming, to be honest with you,”; he said. “;We'd played well the last four or five games, and not to have the energy and competitiveness I thought we'd need to have ... give Hawaii credit. They just overwhelmed us.”;

Hawaii went with its recent dual-point guard attack of Nitoto and Hiram Thompson for much of the night, allowing each ballhandler to relieve pressure off of the other against Fresno's halfhearted press.

When asked the key to last night's offensive success, Nash and Nitoto both mentioned a simplified flex-motion offense that cut out certain plays.

“;We've really been working extremely hard on perfecting our offense,”; Nitoto said.

“;Extremely hard,”; Flemings echoed.

“;We're going to give you one play, and we got a million options out of that,”; Nitoto finished.

The Rainbows' full scout team—Leroy Lutu, Conrad Fitzgerald, Adam Jespersen, Beau Albrechtson, and Ji Xiang—was inserted for the final 2 minutes.

Hawaii held the Bulldogs scoreless for the first 6 minutes in jumping out to a 10-0 lead. Fresno's miserable 10-point first half was by far the most futile period of a UH opponent this season. The previous low was an 18-point half by George Washington in the Rainbow Classic.


WAC Standings



Utah St.1001.000221
Nevada63.6673 1/2 139
Boise St.53.6254156
New Mexico St.55.50051112
San Jose St.45.4445 1/2 1010
Louisiana Tech37.3007914
Fresno St.17.1258914

Hawaii 69, Fresno State 43
Louisiana Tech 78, Nevada 75
Utah State 78, New Mexico State 59

Idaho at Hawaii, 7 p.m.
Louisiana Tech at Utah State
Boise State at San Jose State
New Mexico State at Nevada


Hawaii 69, Fresno State 43


















































































































































































Bulldogs (9-14, 1-7)





Rainbow Warriors (11-11, 3-7)



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—Hawaii 34, Fresno State 10
3-point goals—Fresno State 4-12 ( George 2-3, Cartwright 1-2, Ladd 1-4, Golubovic 0-1, Seay 0-2), Hawaii 2-10 (Fitzgerald 1-1, Balocka 1-2, Nitoto 0-1, Adams 0-1, Xiang 0-1, Lutu 0-1, Mayen 0-1, Flemings 0-2).
Steals—Fresno State 6 (Cartwright 3, George, Ladd, Webster), Hawaii 6 (Mayen 2, Nitoto, Campbell, Amis, Lutu). Blocked shots—Fresno State 6 (George 2, Seay 2, Seals 2), Hawaii 6 (Flemings 3, Amis 2, Thompson).
Officials—Bob Staffen, Rick Bastell, Bobby Vetkoetter. Technical fouls: Fresno State—Seay, Sylvester. Hawaii—none. Attendance—3,234.