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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, March 9, 2001

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

UH logo

Hawaii bites
Bulldogs, again

Hawaii 76 Fresno State 67

Bullet Hawaii hammers TCU
Bullet Rainbow Basketball Notebook

By Dave Reardon

TULSA. Okla. -- Predrag Savovic scored 23 points and Troy Ostler added 19 as the University of Hawaii men's basketball team beat Fresno State, 76-67, tonight (Friday) to advance to the championship game of the WAC Tournament.

The Rainbows, winners of six of their last seven games, play the winner of tonight's other semifinal between Tulsa and Texas-El Paso in tomorrow's (Saturday) final. The winner of that game gets an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Hawaii last went to the Big Dance in 1994, when it lost in the first round to Syracuse, 92-78.

"(The players) can't think about (the NCAA Tournament) ," Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said. "I probably will all night. I've experienced it, and this is a special group. I want them to experience it, too."

Hawaii (16-13, 8-8 WAC) led most the game in and upset No. 25 Fresno State (25-6, 13-3), the defending tournament champion and this season's WAC regular ñseason champion. The Bulldogs are considered a lock for an NCAA berth.

UH's win also avenged a controversial 103-100 double-overtime loss to Fresno State in a WAC Tournament semifinal game last year at Fresno.

This time, the Rainbows led most the way as they built a 34-24 lead with Savovic and Ostler scoring 10 points each and Phil Martin contributing 10 of his 13 rebounds.

WAC player of the year Melvin Ely, the Bulldogs center, got into early foul trouble and scored 12 points with four rebounds in only 28 minutes.

"Our post guys (Ostler, Haim Shimonovich, Martin and Mindaugas Burneika) were battling," Wallace said. "They're not the same team without Ely."

Nerijus Puida also did a good defensive job on FSU's highly touted Tito Maddox, limiting him to 11 points and six assists.

But the Bulldogs, using pressure defense, scored the first 10 points of the second half to tie it at 37-37, and then went ahead, 42-41. Hawaii then got 3-pointers from Mike McIntyre and Nerijus Puida and a 14-footer by Savovic to go up 49-42.

Fresno never got closer than five points the rest of the way.

"They're great shooters, they know how to pass," Tarkanian said. "After I saw what they did to TCU I was scared to death. (Hawaii) tore them to pieces."

UH beat TCU, 99-79, in a quarterfinal game Thursday.

Against FSU, Martin, playing on his 21st birthday, added 10 points to go with his career-high rebounds. Carl English also scored 10 points, along with eight assists in leading the Rainbows through the Bulldogs' second-half fullcourt traps and double-teams.

Chris Jefferies led five FSU players in double figures with 15 points.

Associated Press
University of Hawaii forward Nerijus Puida, left, looks for
someone to pass the ball to as Texas Christian's Ryan Carroll
applies pressure during yesterday's WAC Tournament
game, won by the Rainbows.

hammers TCU

Rainbows dispatch Tubbs'
Frogs, and bounce into today's
WAC semifinals against
the Bulldogs


By Dave Reardon

TULSA, Okla. -- If you can't win on the road, turn the road into home.

It's hardly possible during the fly-in, play, fly-out regular season, but the University of Hawaii men's basketball team found acclimation nearly as important as determination in its 99-79 WAC Tournament quarterfinal demolition of Texas-Christian yesterday.

UH And UH hopes it helps again in today's semifinal against Fresno State. Of course, it also comes in handy if Predrag Savovic scores 24 points and Nerijus Puida 21, and UH shoots 60 percent from the floor, as happened yesterday.

The Rainbows have been here since Sunday, and coach Riley Wallace said familiarity with surroundings and development of routines helped in thrashing the Horned Frogs even more soundly than two weeks ago in Honolulu.

"We've come out here and become local -- regulars at the Golden Corral and the Rib Crib. We even know Tuesdays is all-you-can-eat night. We've got it all down, we're homeboys now," said Wallace, who considers himself "part Okie" after coaching three years at Seminole Junior College in the 1980s.

Fifth-seeded Hawaii played like it was in the Stan Sheriff Center, where it went 7-1 this year in WAC play, compared to the opposite on the road.

The Rainbows broke the tournament record with an all-you-can-score 26 assists and tied the school mark with 13 3-pointers to improve to 15-13, guaranteeing a winning season. Fourth-seeded TCU dropped to 20-12 (9-7), and has to hope for an NIT bid while UH remained in the hunt for the NCAA berth that goes with the tournament championship.

UH played perhaps its best game of the season in winning its fifth of the last six. It earned the 'Bows a chance to avenge last year's 103-100 double-overtime semifinal loss to Fresno State at the Bulldogs' Selland Arena, where a fan tangled with former UH player Marquette Alexander.

But this time the Rainbows are "home."

The Reynolds Center crowd of 2,759 wasn't as much pro-Hawaii as it was anti-Billy Tubbs yesterday. The TCU coach once brought his Oklahoma team to Tulsa and vowed never to return, so some fans here don't think of him fondly. Many wearing Hurricane gear were glad to lend a helping jeer as the Rainbows ushered the Horned Frogs out of the WAC and into Conference USA, which TCU joins next season.

Locals say the anti-Hawaii's opponent effect will be multiplied today -- nobody seems to like the Bulldogs, who have owned the Hurricane, beating them five times the past two seasons.

"I hope they pull for Hawaii," Wallace told reporters. "It's too far for our band, cheerleaders and dancers to come. We've got 100 (Hawaii) people cheering for us so we need all the Tulsa people. Maybe if you tell them I'm part Okie they'll come out and support us."

Tip-off is 2 p.m. HST today (Fox Sports West 2), before the other semifinal matching Texas-El Paso and Tulsa.

FSU coach Jerry Tarkanian, speaking after an uninspired 60-52 slogging past sticky Rice, did the coach-speak thing.

"I respect (the Rainbows)," he said. "Riley Wallace has done a great job with his team offensively."

The UH head man wasn't buying any.

"Tark's probably chomping at the bit," Wallace said. "He kicked our butts at Fresno. He probably wanted us. We're not as athletic as TCU, so I'm sure he'd like to play us.

"They still talk about it in Hawaii, how (there was a) no-call against (UH guard Mike) McIntyre a year ago or we'd be playing in the championship. (The Rainbows) know they can play with them if they step up and don't let traps and the press bother them."

Hawaii overcame Fresno State's defensive intensity in Honolulu on Feb. 1; UH made 22 turnovers, but offset them with 25 assists on the way to a 91-73 win.

The Rainbows had 19 giveaways against TCU's pressure yesterday, but never lost their composure.

"Coach told us to relax, play like we know how to play," said Savovic, the All-WAC guard who turned in one of his best all-around efforts.

Savovic hit a 3-pointer and Puida made two more as Hawaii quickly changed an 8-8 tie into a 17-11 lead and steadily built on it.

The lead got up to 37-20 on Mindaugas Burneika's transition bucket off a steal by Savovic and pretty feed by McIntyre at 5:18 before the half, capping a 7-0 run.

TCU increased its defensive pressure but never got a run going as UH's offense answered every challenge. The most consecutive points the Horned Frogs got all game was five; they did it twice -- the second time was with less than a minute left, and Hawaii replied to it, with Lance Takaki's 12-foot swish.

"We had nothing go for us. Not only were we not stopping them, we weren't getting much going offensively," Tubbs said.

Troy Ostler, Phil Martin, Haim Shimonovich and Burneika played some of their best post defense of the season, limiting center Derrick Davenport to two points.

UH also got super passing from Ostler. He scored 19 points and blocked three shots. No surprise there, but kicking the ball out for a career-high eight assists was.

Hawaii dominated the glass, 38-28, and put in 12 second-chance points -- not bad for a team ranked last in the league in rebounds.

"We know as a team we can crash boards," said Ostler, who was one of five Rainbows to gather four or more caroms, with five. "We're all athletic, tall and long. (The coaches have) been stressing we need more offensive boards and I think guys took notice of that today and went harder to the boards."

Bingo Merriex led the Horned Frogs with 26 points and eight rebounds, but it was obvious TCU missed ball-hawking guard Greedy Daniels and forward Myron Anthony, both dismissed from the team two weeks ago.

Tubbs made no excuses.

"The fact is they played an absolutely great game. On the other hand ... that's probably as bad as we played the whole year," Tubbs said. "We switched defenses. They hit 3's against man, they hit 3's against zone. They got layups against man, they got layups against zone.

"If I had to play them one more time I might play them differently," Tubbs said. "But I'm not sure I want to play them one more time."

He won't have to, at least not in the WAC.

Hawaii 99, Texas Christian 79

Warriors (15-13, 9-8)

fg fga ft fta reb a tp min
Savovic 8 13 3 5 6 5 24 30
Martin 3 5 0 0 4 0 6 14
Ostler 7 9 5 8 5 8 19 27
McIntyre 2 7 0 0 3 5 5 31
Puida 7 13 2 4 4 2 21 35
Hilton 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
Takaki 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 1
Shimonovic 4 4 1 2 5 0 9 11
Burneika 2 2 0 0 3 4 4 24
English 2 4 3 4 3 1 9 19
Holliday 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
O’Connor 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
Fields 0 1 0 0 2 1 0 2
Team 0 0

3 0 0 0
Totals 36 60 14 23 38 26 99 200

Horned Frogs (20-11, 9-8)

fg fga ft fta reb a tp min
Carroll 5 9 0 0 4 2 14 38
Merriex 9 19 5 8 8 0 26 38
Davenport 0 4 2 4 2 0 2 17
Smith 4 6 1 3 1 1 9 26
McTyer 4 9 4 6 1 4 13 35
Allaway 3 6 7 10 3 2 13 28
Dumont 1 3 0 0 2 1 2 8
Paulk 0 3 0 0 1 1 0 10
Team 0 0 0 0 6 0 0 0
Totals 26 59 19 31 28 11 79 200

Key--fg: field goals; fga: field goals attempted; ft: free throws; fta: free throws attempted; min: minutes; reb: rebounds; a: assists; tp: total points.

Halftime score-Hawaii 47, TCU 34

3-point goals-Hawaii 13-24 (Savovic 5-7, Puida 5-9, English 2-3, McIntyre 1-5), TCU 8-20 (Carroll 4-7, Merriex 3-8, McTyer 1-4, Allaway 0-1). Personal fouls-Hawaii 24, TCU 20. Fouled out--Savovic, Allaway. Technical fouls--none. Steals-Hawaii 6 (Savovic 2, McIntyre 2, Martin, Ostler), TCU 10 (McTyer 3, Carroll 2, Allaway 2, Merriex, Smith, Paulk).

Blocked shots-Hawaii 3 (Ostler 3), TCU 1 (Merriex). Turnovers-Hawaii 19 (Burneika 4, McIntyre 3, Shimonovic 3, English 3, Martin 2, Puida 2, Savovic, Ostler), TCU 16 (McTyer 4, Allaway 3, Merriex 2, Davenport 2, Smith 2, Paulk 2, Carroll). Officials-Harrington, Randall, Kaster. A-2,759.

WAC Tournament

NO. 25 Fresno St. 60, Rice 52

Rice (14-16): Evans 0-1 0-0 0, Cooper 7-15 2-2 20, Morgan 0-3 3-4 3, Tyndell 0-6 0-0 0, Wilks 6-11 8-9 21, Mance 0-1 0-0 0, Walton 0-2 0-0 0, Kollik 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 1-3 1-2 3, Diene 2-3 1-1 5. Totals 16-45 15-18 52.

Fresno St. (25-5): Jefferies 1-8 5-8 8, Swillis 3-5 1-3 7, Ely 1-3 4-6 6, Maddox 2-7 9-12 14, Porter 6-9 6-10 21, Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Felix 1-1 0-0 2, DeManby 0-1 0-0 0, Al-Sayyad 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 14-35 27-41 60.

Halftime--Fresno St. 35-23. 3-Point goals--Rice 5-18 (Cooper 4-8, Wilks 1-2, Mance 0-1, Smith 0-1, Walton 0-2, Tyndell 0-4). Fresno St. 5-15 (Porter 3-5, Maddox 1-2, Jefferies 1-6, Jackson 0-1, DeMnby 0-1). Fouled out--Evans, Wilks, Diene. Rebounds--Rice 33 (Morgan 9), Fresno St. 26 (Ely 6). Assists--Rice 8 (Morgan, Tyndell, Wilks 2), Fresno St. 10 (Maddox 4). Total fouls--Rice 28, Fresno St. 19. Technical--Rice coach Wilson.

UTEP 74, SMU 70

SMU (18-12): Davis 4-10 0-0 9, Niemi 2-10 2-2 6, Hancock 4-10 4-6 13, Sasser 6-19 3-5 15, Ross 8-15 3-4 23, Lowe 0-1 0-0 0, Kelley 2-3 0-0 4, Smith 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-69 12-17 70.

UTEP (22-7): Owens 4-7 1-2 10, Smallwood 2-5 8-10 13, Wolfram 3-8 6-7 12, Stewart 5-6 4-5 14, Costello 4-12 3-6 13, Neal 3-6 0-0 9, Jarrell 0-0 0-0 0, Enzweiler 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 22-47 22-30 74.

Halftime--UTEP 36, SMU 31. 3-point goals--SMU 6-20 (Ross 4-8, Hancock 1-3, Davis 1-3, Lowe 0-1, Sasser 0-5). UTEP 8-21 (Neal 3-5, Costello 2-9, Enzweiler 1-3, Smallwood 1-2, Owens 1-2). Fouled out--Davis, Smallwood. Rebounds--SMU 37 (Niemi 9), UTEP 41 (Smallwood 10). Assists--SMU 13 (Sasser 5), UTEP 15 (Smallwood 6). Technicals--Hancock, SMU bench, Smallwood). Total fouls--SMU 22, UTEP 21.

Tulsa 64, San Jose St. 53

San Jose St. (14-14): Powell 4-14 2-2 10, Williams 7-13 0-0 14, Granucci 1-3 0-0 2, Garrett 4-9 0-0 9, Landram 3-9 2-3 9, Sonenberg 0-0 0-0 0, Valentine 0-1 0-2 0, Thurmond 4-6 1-1 9. Totals 23-56 5-8 53.

Tulsa (20-10): Hill 7-13 0-0 18, Shelton 4-9 2-2 12, Johnson 6-10 6-7 18, Swanson 0-4 3-6 3, Harrington 2-8 5-8 10, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Reed 0-4 0-0 0, Parker 0-4 1-2 1, Ingram 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 19-52 19-27 64.

Halftime--Tulsa 32, San Jose St. 26. 3-point goals--San Jose St. 2-9 (Garrett 1-3, Landram 1-3, Powell 0-2, Valentine 0-1). Tulsa 7-19 (Hill 4-9, Shelton 2-3, Harrington 1-2, Parker 0-2, Reed 0-2, Swanson 0-1). Fouled out--Granucci. Rebounds--San Jose St. 32 (Powell, Williams 9), Tulsa 38 (Davis 7). Assists--San Jose St. 9 (Granucci, Landram 3), Tulsa 16 (Swanson 6). Technicals--Landram. Total fouls--San Jose St. 20, Tulsa 12. A--7,255.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii



Puida leads
men and women

TULSA, Okla. -- University of Hawaii men's basketball forward Nerijus Puida had a tough act to follow yesterday -- that of his wife, Dainora.

Dainora, a center on the UH women's team, scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Wahine won their WAC Tournament quarterfinal game against Tulsa on Wednesday.

Nerijus scored "only" 21 points with four rebounds in the Rainbows' 99-79 quarterfinal victory over Texas-Christian yesterday.

"He watched his wife shoot last night and he had pressure," UH coach Riley Wallace joked. "Back at home, she's telling him, 'If you just relax and shoot like I do ...' "

Puida is actually one of Wallace's favorite players -- ever.

"He's what college sports is all about. Goes to class, a 3.8 (grade-point average) student in business," Wallace said of the senior from Lithuania. "He wouldn't sign with me unless I promised we'd play team basketball, make the extra pass, be an unselfish team, and he's got a lot to do with this team being the way it is."

Nerijus Puida scored 11 points above his average, hitting a career-high 5-of-9 3-pointers. He said he didn't have any special feeling that yesterday would be a particularly good shooting day.

"Coach said just relax and have fun. Take open shots," Nerijus Puida said.

Wallace then added: "This team has given me a feeling I've never had. For me to make a statement like that, 'relax and have fun,' not a player I've ever had has ever heard me say that before now. (But) they do what I ask them to do, they execute, so I don't have to rant and rave and work the sideline and threaten them."

Good look

Even without a true point guard, the Rainbows set a WAC Tournament single-game record with 26 assists.

But handing out helpers is nothing new for this UH team. They've piled up 20 or more assists in 10 games now, including four of the past six, of which they've won five.

"This is probably the most unselfish team I've ever coached," Wallace said. "They like to make the extra pass and even another extra, extra pass to get a teammate a shot."

Mr. Clutch

Fresno State is full of weapons, but one guy who gets lost in the shuffle at times is senior guard Demetrius Porter. He scored 21 points yesterday, including several clutch baskets down the stretch, as FSU ousted Rice, 60-52. Hawaii fans will remember Porter for hitting the buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave Fresno the 103-100 double-overtime win in last year's WAC Tournament semifinal.

Haim time

Freshman post player Haim Shimonovich played in his sixth game as a Rainbow, and it was his best by far. He achieved highs in points (nine) and rebounds (five) in 11 minutes, and made all four of his shots from the field. He would have been 5-for-5, but was called for traveling on a dunk late in the game.

UH is 5-1 since Shimonovich joined the lineup after a 22-game NCAA-imposed suspension for playing in a pro league (he received no pay) in his native Israel.


Fresno State's Jerry Tarkanian, 70, said he will be back next year for his 38th season of college basketball coaching. Potential pros Melvin Ely, Chris Jefferies and Tito Maddox are also leaning toward remaining another season at FSU. ... A source said Texas-El Paso's Brandon Wolfram has made the academic All-American first team, which will be released next week. Wolfram also received the honor last year. ... Rice guard Mike Wilks has been invited to the Portsmouth tournament, a show-me event for pro scouts. Hawaii is working on getting Troy Ostler an invitation. ... TCU coach Billy Tubbs was asked to address rumors he might not be the Horned Frogs' coach next year. Part of his reply: "If you find anything out, please let me know." ...

The Rainbows tied a team single-game record with the 13 3-pointers, first set Dec. 1, 1993 at North Carolina. That was the same season UH won the WAC Tournament and went to the NCAA Tournament. ... Tulsa beat UTEP in both meetings this season, but the Miners have won five of their last six games.

Dave Reardon, Star-Bulletin

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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