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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, March 10, 2000

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

WAC 2000

knock out No. 3
seed Mustangs

Alexander, Ostler step up as
Hawaii advances to face Fresno
State today in the WAC
Tournament semis

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By Pat Bigold


FRESNO, Calif. - Riley Wallace has kept his University of Hawaii team under wraps the past three days while preparing for the Western Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament.

What he unveiled last night, few expected.

In a stunning tour de force performance, the Rainbows knocked No. 3 seed Southern Methodist (21-10) out of the WAC tournament and probably off the bubble for an NCAA tournament berth with an 87-82 victory.

Associated Press
Hawaii's Mike McIntyre goes for a loose ball between
SMU's Willie Davis, left, and Stephen Woods.

Leading the way were junior forward Troy Ostler (22 points, 13 rebounds) and senior center Marquette Alexander (18 points, 10 rebounds). Sophomore Mike McIntyre came off the bench in the second half to hit four critical 3-pointers.

"This is the team that showed up to beat Oregon, Colorado and Bradley in the Rainbow Classic,'' said Wallace during the postgame interview at Selland Arena.

The Rainbows (17-11) were 11-2 after beating Oregon for the Rainbow Classic title on Dec. 30. They opened the new year 5-9.

It was Hawaii's first win in the WAC tournament since a 66-64 victory over Colorado State in the 1995 semifinals.

In tonight's semifinal, Hawaii faces No. 2 seed Fresno State (22-9), another team on the bubble, for the second time in six days.

The Rainbows lost to the Bulldogs, 79-69, last weekend here. Hawaii also lost to Fresno State at home on Feb. 5, an 85-77 defeat that began the team's season-ending slump (six losses in last seven games).

Tulsa and TCU meet in the other semifinal.

Hawaii led throughout, shooting 54 percent to SMU's 40 percent. The Rainbows led by as much as 17 points twice in the first half before entering intermission with a 51-36 lead.

SMU erased all but one point of that lead, closing to 66-65 in the second half while applying a full-court trap. But Alexander made a nifty pass inside to Ostler for a layup and McIntyre nailed a trey to open the gap again.

Quinton Ross's 3-pointer with 1:54 left narrowed it to 85-82.

But Nerijus Puida, saddled with four fouls, helped the Rainbows hold firm over the final 92 seconds. He grabbed three critical rebounds then iced the game with two free throws with 22 seconds left.

The Rainbows' attention now turns to the Bulldogs. The Fresno State fans adopted Hawaii last night; it surely won't be the same tonight.

"They're a really good ballclub with the best player in the league, and possibly the best 2 position guard in the country,'' said Wallace, referring to NCAA scoring leader Courtney Alexander of Fresno State.

Security has been increased for the tournament at the request of Wallace and UH officials. It is in response to last Saturday's incident where Marquette Alexander and a Fresno State fan traded punches after the game.

Wallace was surrounded by a security escort last night. He did not allow Alexander to take part in the postgame press conference.

Alexander was able to block out everything but the business at hand in one of the most electrifying performances of his career.

Besides registering his sixth double-double of the season, he had five assists and collected only two fouls while playing 38 minutes.

"He played one of his most unselfish ballgames he has played all year,'' said Wallace. "He played a really good floor game. He's the leader, and when he steps up and plays tough, and makes everyone else play tough, we can win.''

Ostler, who collected his fourth double-double, played the most assertive game of his career.

"The guy who was playing the best was Ostler,'' said SMU head coach Mike Dement. "He got some nice boards and hit the baseline jumper, he was a 56 percent free throw shooter and he made almost all of his free throws (8-for-10).''

Jeryl Sasser had 20 points to lead SMU.

Fresno State 79, UTEP 70:

Terrance Roberson scored 19 points to lead five Bulldogs in double figures. Larry Abney added a double-double (15 points, 14 rebounds) for Fresno State. Eggie McRae scored 18 points for the Miners.

TCU 84, San Jose State 71:

Marquise Gainous and Estell Laster each scored 22 points for the Horned Frogs. Cory Powell had 19 points and Billy Landram added 18 for the Spartans.

Tulsa 71, Rice 51:

The Golden Hurricane got 20 points from David Shelton. Rice was led by Erik Cooper's 14 points.


Yesterday's results

Hawaii 87, SMU 82
Fresno St. 79, UTEP 70
Tulsa 71, Rice 51
TCU 84, San Jose St. 71

Today's semifinals

TCU vs. Tulsa 4 p.m. HST
Hawaii vs. Fresno St. 6:30 p.m. HST


Today's semifinals

SMU vs. Tulsa, 10 a.m. HST
Hawaii vs. Fresno St., 12:30 pm HST

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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