Williams' 36 not enough


POSTED: Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dwain Williams was the gift who kept on giving.

Unfortunately for the Rainbow Warriors, the unwrapping of Williams on Christmas wasn't enough to get past Saint Mary's, as the Gaels took third place in the inaugural Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic with an 84-75 win at the Stan Sheriff Center.

An ESPN2 audience and crowd of 2,538 watched as the transfer guard from Providence went for a career-high 36 points in vain. Thanks mostly to Omar Samhan's 24 points and a team effort of 29-for-31 at the free-throw line, the Gaels (11-2) had an answer every time the Rainbows (6-6) crept within single digits in the final 10 minutes.

UH dropped the final two games of its new holiday tournament after winning its first-round game over College of Charleston.

This time, struggling top scorer Roderick Flemings sat out with a hurt right knee and watched in street clothes. Thus, the Rainbows desperately needed Williams' binge against one of the highest-scoring teams in the country at 81.5 points per game; Williams moved into the starting lineup in place of Flemings, who missed his first regular-season game for the Rainbows in two seasons.

“;I thought we had a good game plan in mind. We wanted to slow it down and execute our offense,”; said UH coach Bob Nash. “;(Late in the game) we couldn't afford to run our offense, it uses too much of the clock. (Dwain) was making some plays, so we just turned him loose and let him make the plays. ... We just went with what was working.”;

By going 8-for-18 from the field (including 4-for-10 on 3-pointers) and 16-for-18 from the free-throw line, Williams' total was the ninth-highest in UH history and tied for seventh-highest at the Sheriff. His 16 free throws made broke the arena record, and he tied the mark for foul-line attempts. And it was the highest mark among all players in the heavily televised tournament.

All of that mattered little to Williams and the Rainbows.

“;We're in our stuff, and getting open shots and missing. I just felt like I wanted to win. The only thing I wanted to do is win. I'm a winner first before anything; I don't care about anything else,”; said Williams, who scored 13 more points than his best game as a Friar. “;I just felt it was best for me to just attack. I didn't feel like any of those guys could stay in front of me.”;

His previous UH best was 20, set twice. He was UH's lone player on the DHC all-tournament team.

Petras Balocka was the only other player to score in double figures for UH with 12 points and nine rebounds, and he did most of his damage early with nine points in the first 6 minutes.

In UH's third straight game on national TV and second straight on ESPN2, the hosts were unable to solve the Gaels' inside-outside game based around Samhan—despite SMC's inability to match its season average of over 40 percent on 3-pointers (5-for-16, 31.3 percent yesterday).

Samhan went 10-for-10 on free throws, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots in joining Williams on the all-tournament team. Balocka defended Samhan 1-on-1 most of the game, with Paul Campbell coming over on weak-side help defense, but the combo wasn't effective enough.

SMC point guard Mickey McConnell added 17 points and six assists, Ben Allen scored 15 and Matthew Dellavedova and Clint Steindl chipped in 12 apiece as all five Gaels starters scored in double figures.

It didn't help that the Rainbows were also in the giving spirit, coughing up 16 turnovers while forcing just eight.

SMC coach Randy Bennett was sympathic over Flemings' absence for UH.

“;That's a huge loss for them; he's their best player,”; Bennett said. “;Bad break for them, would have been a different game with him ... other than guarding Williams, I thought we did a pretty good job defensively.”;

UH went to fullcourt pressure late in the game and put the ball in Williams' hot hands, largely abandoning the flex offense. He buried his third 3-pointer to pull UH within 70-61 with 3:40 left, but it would get no closer than six at 79-73, as the Gaels routinely converted at the line.

It was a strange experience for Gaels assistant Mark Campbell, the former UH point guard from 2001 to '03.

“;It's a tricky deal because those are close friends on the coaching staff,”; Campbell said. “;It's tough playing your friends, but obviously you're ultra-competitive and want to win, but it's your buddies you're looking at at the other bench.”;

UH forward Brandon Adams and Samhan were teammates at San Ramon Valley High (Calif.). Adams had four points in 12 minutes off the bench.


SAINT Mary's 84, Hawaii 75





















































































































































GAELS (11-2)
TEAM  4    



TEAM  6    

Key— fg-a: field goals made-attempted; ft-a: free throws made-attempted; rb: rebounds; pf: personal fouls; pts: total points; a: assists; to: turnovers; min: minutes played.
Halftime— Saint Mary's 37, Hawaii 33
3-point goals— Saint Mary's 5-16 (McConnell 3-4, Allen 1-3, Steindl 1-6, Dellavedova 0-3), Hawaii 6-15 (Williams 4-10, Thompson 1-1, Balocka 1-1, Mayen 0-1, Lay 0-2).
Steals— Saint Mary's 8 (McConnell 4, Dellavedova 3, Samhan), Hawaii 5 (Thompson 3, Williams, Mayen). Blocked shots— Saint Mary's 6 (Samhan 4, McConnell, Allen). Hawaii 3 (Campbell 3)
Officials— Mike Thibodeaux, Kipp Kissinger, Brent Meaux.