Nevada stuns UH


POSTED: Sunday, February 15, 2009

Heartbreak was in the cards for Hawaii on Valentine's Day.

Nevada guard Armon Johnson hit a game-winning, twisting layup with 7 seconds left to send the Wolf Pack to a 47-46 victory over the Rainbow Warriors before a crowd of 4,475 last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

UH was out of timeouts, forcing Hiram Thompson to drive upcourt to the left. He came up short on an off-balance floater with 2 seconds left, and players battled for the loose ball as the horn sounded. Wolf Pack players celebrated on the court as dejected Hawaii players slumped back to the bench.

“;I was looking for Rod (Flemings) because he's our go-to guy, but they had a couple guys on him so I just went and drove,”; Thompson said. “;Two guys ran at me so I had to throw it pretty high, and just didn't have enough on it. It's a bummer, we wanted that game.”;

In a game of extreme shifts of momentum, the Pack (15-10, 8-4 Western Athletic Conference) had the final punch. Nevada surged back after trailing 46-39 with 2:37 to play, scoring the game's final eight points against the stingy Rainbows (12-12, 4-8).

A free throw by Johnson started the comeback. Forward Luke Babbitt scored inside after Flemings was rejected on a putback at the other end. After a UH turnover, Johnson converted a three-point play to pull the Pack within a point.

Hawaii's meltdown was complete after Kareem Nitoto and Flemings miscommunicated on a pass in the backcourt that sailed out of bounds against no pressure. UH forced Babbitt into a turnover on the ensuing play, but the Rainbows were forced to burn their final timeout against pressure in the forecourt with 42.9 seconds left, which proved critical.

Nitoto missed a 3-pointer and Johnson drove through the lane for his tough floater and the last of his game-high 25 points.

“;Coach (Mark Fox) called the play for me, he had confidence in me,”; Johnson said. “;We had some mental lapses, some times we couldn't score—they were playing real tough defense and I'm glad we weathered the storm and came up with the win.”;

Nevada extended its mastery over UH to seven straight wins and victories in 10 of the last 11 meetings. That includes three straight at the Stan Sheriff Center with three straight season sweeps. Also, three of the last six games between the teams have been decided by a basket or less.

Forward Bill Amis, who had only four points in Hawaii's 74-63 loss to the Pack in Reno, Nev., last month, returned from an ankle injury to score 10 points and grab eight rebounds off the bench. Flemings added 10 points, five rebounds and three assists and four steals, but no other player scored in double figures for UH.

Hawaii was impressive defensively for the third straight game—it turned a 17-4 run while holding Nevada without a field goal from the 15-minute mark until Johnson's basket with 1:10 left. In the final contest of UH's three-game homestand, the Rainbows held the Pack to just 35.6 percent shooting and four assists against 18 turnovers. It was the first time since the 1950-51 season that UH held three straight opponents under 50 points, and a first in the modern era for the Rainbows.

It wasn't enough.

“;Tonight was obviously a disappointing loss for us, I thought the guys had a great week of preparation for this team,”; Hawaii coach Bob Nash said. “;To make some errors in judgment to turn the ball over down the stretch ... (Nevada) was able to execute and knock down some shots ... a sweet win for them. We lost some focus and gave up some easy baskets.”;

His counterpart was relieved to escape with a win.

“;What a slugfest,”; Fox said. “;Both teams defended really well, we were fortunate just to have the ball last. Armon made a big basket for us, but ... Hawaii is great defensively. (The final play) was the look we wanted.”;

Hawaii was hamstrung with a 14-for-24 night at the free throw line and 34 percent shooting overall. The Rainbows had a streak of 135 games of at least one 3-pointer made snapped, going back to 2004 against Southern Illinois.



WAC standings

WAC Overall

Utah St.121.923242.923
Boise St.74.636177.708
New Mexico St.75.5831312.520
San Jose St.48.3331013.435
Louisiana Tech48.3331015.400
Fresno St.29.1821016.385


Nevada 47, Hawaii 46

New Mexico St. 79, Fresno St. 71, OT

Boise St. 66, Utah St. 56

Idaho 74, San Jose St. 66


Nevada 47, Hawaii 46

Wolfpack (15-10, 8-4)

Phillips, R.0-00-0010003
Phillips, A.0-00-0000007
Team  2

Rainbow Warriors (12-12, 4-8)

Team  3   1

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 27, Navada 24

3-point goals—Nevada 1-7 (Johnson 1-2, Babbitt 0-1, Cooke 0-1, Burleson 0-2), Hawaii 0-4 (Thompson 0-2, Parghalava 0-2).

Steals—Nevada 9 (Burleson 3, Cooke 3, Babbitt 2, Shaw), Hawaii 10 (Flemings 4, Nitoto 3, Thompson, Campbell, Amis). Blocked shots—Nevada 4 (Hunt 3, Cooke), Hawaii 1 (Campbell).

Officials—Mike Reed, Ruben Ramos, Duane Allen. Attendance—4,475.