'Bows' bracket busted


POSTED: Sunday, February 22, 2009

After a half of basketball that could have put the Hawaii “;H”; on the side of a milk carton, the Rainbow Warriors emerged from the ranks of the missing.





Hawaii 70




at Utah State Thursday


'Bows' bracket busted   Unfortunately for the Rainbows, a surprising UC Irvine team was present all night and took UH's best shots to hang on for a 76-70 win in an ESPN BracketBusters game last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

A crowd of 4,169 watched the Rainbows come up short after cutting a 20-point second-half deficit to one. Five Anteaters scored in double figures as the visitors from the Big West poured it on early but sweated out a furious 46-point second half from UH (13-13 overall).

After Hawaii churned a 26-8 run and pulled to 61-60 on two Brandon Adams free throws with 1 minute, 59 seconds left, UCI went on a 12-5 spurt to fend off the Rainbows. Kareem Nitoto hit two 3-pointers in the final minute but the Anteaters made 11 straight free throws (and 19 of 21 for the game) to close it out.

UCI connected on eight of its nine 3-pointers in the first half in building a 14-point halftime lead against the listless Rainbows, who looked to be a step behind after arriving home from Fresno, Calif., on Friday evening.

The Anteaters have been mired near the bottom of the Big West and didn't appear to be a threat on paper to steal a win with a 3-9 road record entering the night.

“;We came out too lackluster, we just looked at our opponent,”; Nitoto said. “;I felt we didn't respect our opponent tonight. When you don't respect your opponent they just jump up and hit you in the mouth just like they did today.”;

Nitoto led Hawaii with 18 points, while Bill Amis added 14 points and 11 rebounds. Roderick Flemings and Brandon Adams added 12 points apiece.

But reserve UCI forward Chad DeCasas stunned Hawaii by making his first three 3-pointers (already more than his season total on treys) en route to a career-high 19 points.

UH had limited time to scout the undersized Anteaters after arriving home from an emotional win at Fresno State and DeCasas (who came in averaging 2.7 points) certainly didn't factor into those plans.

“;The one thing I knew, they could shoot the basketball,”; Hawaii coach Bob Nash said. “;But we let an unknown guy off the bench score a career high on us. I thought that was the difference. He stepped up big-time for them.

“;You gotta give credit to Irvine - they shot the ball extremely well and they seemed like they were the fresher team,”; Nash said. “;They knocked down shots and we struggled until we got our legs back under us a little bit in the second half.”;

UCI (10-17) took control early with a blistering long-range shooting performance and broke the game open with a 10-2 run in the first 5 minutes of the second half.

That's when UH showed up. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Adhar Mayen (UH's first treys in three games) kicked off a 16-4 run to pull the Rainbows within 52-44 with 8 minutes, 23 seconds to play.

After two Irvine free throws made it a 10-point game again, Flemings made four free throws around an Amis layup and a steal to make it 54-50 with 5:13 left.

Nitoto made two jumpers as the crowd got fully behind the home team, but UCI forced a couple of turnovers and connected from the line to derail UH's efforts. It didn't help that the Rainbows fouled some of UCI's best shooters.

“;We had the guys at the line that could make 'em and they made 'em,”; UCI coach Pat Douglass said. “;We knew they would come back, but it's a really good win for us to have come here and won.”;

The Anteaters came out on fire by converting seven of nine 3-point attempts for their first 21 points. UCI shot 8-for-13 from deep for the half in taking a 38-24 lead into the break.

In contrast, Hawaii appeared tired and lost offensively in shooting 34.5 percent in the first half (42.1 percent overall). Flemings and Amis were on their way to double-doubles at intermission, but that was the only positive sign for UH.

Hawaii fell to 3-4 in BracketBusters games, including 1-2 at home. UCI was UH's third straight Big West opponent in BracketBusters, in which the Rainbows are also 1-2.

Petras Balocka missed his third straight game with a groin injury.

WAC standings

Utah State121.923  253
New Mexico St.85.61541512
Boise State75.58341/2179
San Jose St.48.33371/21114
Louisiana Tech49.30881216
Fresno State210.16791/21117


UC Irvine 76, Hawaii 70

Idaho 78, CSU Northridge 75

Fresno State 71, UC Davis 70

New Mexico State 94, CSU Fullerton 86

UC Riverside 53, San Jose State 52

Saint Mary's 75, Utah State 64

Louisiana Tech 69, Murray State 60

Portland State 93, Boise State 81


Hawaii at Utah State, 4 p.m. Hawaii time

Nevada at Fresno State

Idaho at San Jose State

New Mexico State at Louisiana Tech


Hawaii at San Jose State, 5 p.m. Hawaii time

Utah State at Nevada

Boise State at Louisiana Tech

Idaho at Fresno State

UC Irvine 76, Hawaii 70

Anteaters (10-17, 7-7)


Rainbow warriors (13-13, 5-9)


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 - UC Irvine 38, Hawaii 24

3-point goals - UC Irvine 9-18 (DeCasas 3-7, Wise 2-2, Lauer 2-4, Hunter 2-5), Hawaii 4-14 (Nitoto 2-5, Mayen 2-5, Thompson 0-1, Parghalava 0-3).

Steals - UC Irvine 8 (Hunter 3, Bland 3, DeCasas, Lauer), Hawaii 4 (Thompson, Parghalava, Mayen, Amis). Blocked shots - UC Irvine none, Hawaii 2 (Nitoto, Amis).

Officials - Jim Stupin, Jerry Scott, Bill Mallory. Attendance - 4,169.