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Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, March 6, 2000

R A I N B O W _ B A S K E T B A L L

go down fighting
in Fresno

Alexander is attacked by
fans after the team's loss
to host Fresno State

By Pat Bigold


FRESNO, Calif. -- Some observers predicted that the road finale at Fresno State for the struggling University of Hawaii men's basketball team would be ugly.

But they were talking about the score, not what would happen between the floor and the Rainbows' locker room.

The Bulldogs handily defeated Hawaii, 79-69, before 10,220 fans at Selland Arena in a game that saw Fresno state up by as many as 23 points.

But what really rocked Hawaii's night was an outbreak of fan violence Rainbows head coach Riley Wallace said he warned arena officials about before game time.

An out-of-control segment of the crowd attacked three Hawaii players and one coach as they made their way through a narrow, roped-off corridor leading from the court to the locker room. Some of the fans had made their way down from the upper sections.

Hawaii's 6-foot-8 senior center Marquette Alexander, who was a particular target of taunts, wound up in a fist fight with one fan after being struck by a thrown cup.

It was the second time in two trips to Selland Arena that Alexander has been hit by an object thrown in anger.

On Jan. 30, 1999, during a 93-63 loss at Selland Arena, a member of Fresno State's "Dog Pound" tossed a cigarette at Alexander, who was restrained from retaliating.

"You could feel the aggression and that's scary when you're going through a crowd of that type," said an angry Wallace.

Troy Ostler, the 6-9 junior power forward, said he was shoved hard in the back, 6-7 junior reserve forward Lane O'Connor said he was belted on the side of the face, assistant coach Scott Rigot said he was poked in the face by someone's finger and Alexander said he was stunned when a thrown cup struck him from behind as he neared the locker room.

"I turned around and there was this dude in my face," said Alexander.

The taunting fan refused to back off, making menacing gestures at Alexander as the confrontation moved deeper into the crowd, near the steps leading down from the upper section.

"It wasn't bad enough we'd just lost and they're doing all that to us," said Alexander who was at the end of the procession off the court and had witnessed his teammates being attacked.

After a tense standoff, Alexander and the shorter but stockier fan, tore into each other, falling against the stairs as they exchanged punches.

The fight lasted almost a minute before it was broken up by security, and Hawaii coaches led Alexander to the locker room. Campus police officer Gerald Richardson interviewed a number of witnesses. No charges were filed but security grabbed both arms of the fan who fought with Alexander and escorted him from the arena.

His mouth oozed with blood from hits landed by both of Alexander's fists. Alexander managed to avoid being hit in the face and came out of the fray relatively unharmed.

The loss left Hawaii in sixth place and set up a first-round WAC tournament meeting on Thursday at Selland Arena between the Rainbows (16-11, 5-9 WAC) and third-place Southern Methodist (21-7, 9-5 WAC).

WAC men


Fresno State113.786219.700
So. Methodist95.643217.750
Texas Christian86.5711713.567
San Jose State68.4291514.517
Texas-El Paso410.2861314.481

Saturday's results

Fresno State 79, Hawaii 69
San Jose State 70, UTEP 61
Tulsa 83, SMU 78 (OT)
End regular season

WAC tournament

Thursday's games
First round

Tulsa vs. Rice
TCU vs. San Jose State
SMU vs. Hawaii, 4 p.m. HST
Fresno State vs. UTEP

Friday's quarterfinal round games

Tulsa-Rice winner vs. TCU-San Jose St. winner
SMU-Hawaii winner vs. Fresno State-UTEP winner

Saturday's championship game

Friday's winners

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