Utah State runs away from ’Bows
POSTED: Friday, February 27, 2009
LOGAN, Utah » Hoping to serve as a bump in the road for first-place Utah State, the Rainbow Warriors were unable to slow down the Aggies' drive toward a regular-season WAC championship last night.
|UTAH STATE 82
at San Jose St. tomorrow
Utah State routed Hawaii 82-62 in front of 8,717 fans at the Spectrum to clinch its first outright conference title in nine years. The Aggies (26-3, 13-1 Western Athletic Conference) shared the regular-season championship with three other teams last season, but USU hadn't stood alone in the league rankings under head coach Stew Morrill since going 16-0 as a member of the Big West Conference in 1999-2000.
"It's been a while," said Morrill, now in his 11th season at Utah State. "We've had a lot of ties for first, but it's the first outright one we've won in a while. So it's pretty special, and this group has been just an unbelievable group to coach."
Winners of three of its last four conference games, Hawaii (5-9, 13-14) shot a solid 48.9 percent from the field for the game and knocked down six of 10 3-point attempts, but the 'Bows committed 16 turnovers, surrendered 16 offensive rebounds and took 18 fewer shots than the Aggies. The margin of defeat equaled UH's worst of the season - the 'Bows lost at Idaho 67-47 on Jan. 8.
"We shot a pretty decent percentage - it's the first time we've shot six-of-10 from 3-point - and we shot nearly 49 percent from the field," Hawaii head coach Bob Nash noted. "We just didn't get up enough shots. You let them shoot 65 times and as good as shooters as they are, they're going to make a high percentage of them. We just didn't do a good enough job of disrupting their offense and making it tough for them on those shots."
Hiram Thompson went 4-for-4 from 3-point range and scored a career-high 16 points to lead Hawaii. The sophomore guard, who didn't play in USU's 67-51 win at the Stan Sheriff Center on Jan. 24 due to a hamstring injury, was only 2-for-15 from behind the arc coming into the game and was averaging only 3 points a night.
"He did a nice job for us," Nash said of Thompson, who also racked up a personal-best seven assists, despite a hard fall after scoring a basket late in the first half. "He's banged up, and he did the best he could. I thought he stepped up big for us."
Junior forward Bill Amis added 12 points and eight rebounds for the 'Bows, and junior guard Roderick Flemings finished with 10 points.
For the Aggies, senior forward Gary Wilkinson paced the home team with 27 points in just 27 minutes, while sophomore forward Tai Wesley added 16 points and eight rebounds. Hawaii big man Petras Balocka didn't make the road trip due to a groin injury, and Utah State took advantage, outscoring the 'Bows 54-12 in the paint.
"We wanted to come in here and try to disrupt their offense, but they did a good job of running their sets," Amis said of the Aggies. "They did a very good job of pounding the ball down low, and their bigs produced for them."
Guard Tyler Newbold also contributed 12 points and nine rebounds, and point guard Jared Quayle finished with 11 points, eight assists and zero turnovers for the Aggies, who shot 55.4 percent from the field as a team. Utah State has won a school-record 33 games in a row at home, the second-longest current streak in the nation behind Kansas.
"It was a night where they were coming out to clinch the WAC championship, and the fans came out and showed good support," Amis said. "And it's a tough place to play - probably the toughest in the WAC."
The Rainbow Warriors scored the first basket of the contest, but would never lead again the rest of the night. However, thanks to some good shooting early on, Hawaii trailed just 17-15 midway through the first half until the Aggies put together a 12-0 run, primarily due to getting the ball to Wilkinson and Wesley in good position down low.
|New Mexico St.||8||6||.571||15||13||.536|
|San Jose St.||5||8||.385||12||14||.462|
Utah State 82, Hawaii 62
Fresno State 68, Nevada 66
San Jose State 72, Idaho 64
Louisiana Tech 80, New Mexico State 71
Hawaii at San Jose State, 5 p.m. Hawaii time
Utah State at Nevada
Boise State at Louisiana Tech
Idaho at Fresno State
Utah State 82, Hawaii 62
Rainbow warriors (13-14, 5-9)
Aggies (26-3, 13-1)
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 - Utah State 41, Hawaii 28
3-point goals - Hawaii 6-10 (Thompson 4-4, Parghalava 1-1, Fitzgerald 1-1, Nitoto 0-1, Flemings 0-1, Mayen 0-2), Utah State 3-15 (Newbold 2-6, Wilkinson 1-1, Williams, P. 0-2, Quayle 0-3, Williams, S. 0-3).
Steals - Hawaii 6 (Amis, Nitoto, Campbell, Lutu, Mayen, Adams), Utah State 8 (Wilkinson 2, Quayle 2, Willaims, P., Newbold, Myaer, Formisano). Blocked shots - Hawaii 4 (Flemings 2, Xiang, Adams), Utah State 3 (Jardine 3).
Officials - Verne Harris, mark Whitehead, Ronnie Hernandez. Attendance -8,717.