'Bows whip Idaho


POSTED: Sunday, February 08, 2009

A savvy point guard rode a hot hand to a blowout win last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

And it wasn't Idaho's Mac Hopson.




Hawaii   71


        vs. Nevada on Saturday





Kareem Nitoto sizzled on his way to a career-high 21 points to carry Hawaii over Idaho 71-49 before a crowd of 3,475 last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The Rainbow Warriors (12-11, 4-7 Western Athletic Conference) might have something to say to the Vandals (10-12, 4-5) about being the most improved team in the WAC. UH made it two straight blowout wins at home and looks little like the team that lost five straight conference games last month.

Behind Nitoto's 8-for-10 shooting, UH managed a season-best 56.8 percent while holding Idaho to 38.1 percent. The Rainbows surpassed last season's win total of 11 and will try to make it a three-game homestand sweep when they take on Nevada on Saturday.

Roderick Flemings added 16 points, including a pair of thunderous dunks over the hapless Vandals. Lasha Parghalava justified a return to the rotation with 10 points on 3-for-3 shooting.

“;We had some guys tonight who stepped up in a big way—Kareem in particular,”; Hawaii coach Bob Nash said. “;He found his shooting touch and had a great performance—not just scoring, but I think his on-ball defense against arguably one of the better guards in this league. He did a massive job of limiting his drives to the basket, limiting his touches.”;

It was the first time Hawaii held consecutive opponents under 50 points in the modern era. The last time it happened was in 1962-63, when the competition wasn't strictly NCAA Division I.

A big part of that was the defense of Nitoto on Hopson (who leads the WAC in assists at six per game). Hopson had one of his worst nights of the season, finishing with five points on 2-for-8 shooting and three assists against six turnovers. He sat out most of the final 10 minutes as the game got out of hand.

“;Yeah I was (jacked up) and I felt like, in Idaho (a 67-47 defeat), he got the best of me there,”; said Nitoto, who averaged 5.8 points coming into the game. “;So, I really wanted to come in and get after him tonight, hold him to as little as I could.

“;When we were up there I felt a sense of embarrassment. I felt that I didn't do anything for my team, that I let the team down in Idaho. I just wanted to come out here and make up for that and play hard.”;

Hawaii started a double-point-guard lineup of Nitoto and Hiram Thompson in place of injured forward Bill Amis, who missed the game with a rolled ankle suffered against Fresno State on Thursday. Nash asked each player before the game to do a little more in Amis' absence.

Nitoto sure did. He received a standing ovation when he went to the bench with 2 minutes, 47 seconds left. The sophomore surpassed his previous career high of 14, set twice this season.

The Rainbows locked down their opponent in the first half for the second straight game as they took a 28-17 lead at the break. The Vandals got the deficit to nine early in the second half but were steadily outplayed; Idaho is second in the WAC in turnover margin but had only five assists against 17 giveaways.

Idaho was outrebounded 33-18 and didn't hit a 3-pointer until 2:10 was left.

“;Nothing different than we did (up in Idaho)—I thought they just dominated us,”; Vandals coach Don Verlin said. “;Coach Nash did a great job keeping this team together. Earlier in the year, they took a young team on the road, but I tell you, lately they've been playing good basketball.”;

Flemings put an exclamation point on the victory with a soaring one-hand slam from the baseline with 6:47 left to cap a 27-7 run. It put UH up 57-28 and earned a thunderous ovation.

“;We're getting a lot more chemistry on offense, so it's getting a lot easier to know where the shots are coming from,”; Flemings said. “;Everybody's going hard for each other. I was just having fun, trying to play off my team. I got a few to go down.”;

Scout team forward and fan favorite Ji Xiang made the first field goal of his career for the Rainbows' final points.


Hawaii 71, Idaho 49

Vandals (10-12, 4-5)
de Souza0-50-00300216
Team  1 
Rainbow Warriors (12-11, 4-7)
Team  2   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—Hawaii 28, Idaho 17
3-point goals—Idaho 1-13 (Morris 1-3, Hopson 0-1, Simmons 0-1, Eisinger 0-1, Blackstock 0-1, Watson 0-2, de Souza 0-4), Hawaii 4-9 (Parghalava 2-2, Nitoto 2-3, Adams 0-1, Balocka 0-1, Thompson 0-2).
Steals—Idaho 7(Watson 3, Simmons 2, Jefferson, Eisinger), Hawaii 6 (Flemings 3, Thompson, Balocka, Parghalava). Blocked shots—Idaho (none), Hawaii 2 (Nitoto, Adams).
Officials—Bob Staffen, Bobby Vetkoetter, Rick Bastell. Attendance—3,475.


WAC standings

Utah St.1101.000231
Boise St.63.6664166 
Nevada64.6004 1/21310 
New Mexico St.65.54551212
San Jose St.46.4006 1/21011
Louisiana Tech38.2728915
Fresno St.17.1258 1/2914

Hawaii 71, Idaho 49
Utah St. 60, Louisiana Tech 52
Boise St. 89, San Jose St. 83
New Mexico St. 62, Nevada 60
Boise State at Fresno State