By Brian McInnis
A spirited yet unfinished comeback attempt by Hawaii resulted in a narrow 77-72 defeat up in Logan, Utah, to still-dangerous-at-home WAC defending champs Utah State on Thursday.
As evidenced in Gib Arnold's postgame comments in our story by Jeff Hunter, UH (11-9, 3-3 WAC) won't be upset about never going back there again, at least for a conference game. (That's barring future conference shakeups, which we all know can and will happen.)
So that's one positive they can leave with. Another was the play of Vander Joaquim, who was a dominant force down low with 24 points (tying his career high) on 12-for-16 shooting to go with 14 rebounds. The noticeable exception were the two misses on front-end 1-and-1 free throws in the second half that could have narrowed the gap further.
You can bet that Zane Johnson will bounce back from his horrid shooting night (4-for-16, 1-for-9 on 3s) at Idaho on Saturday. Credit USU guard Preston "Meddlin' " Medlin for some of that; it was like watching the bizarro version of Matt Lojeski locking up Jaycee Carroll. Anyway, Zane is now one 3 behind Mike McIntyre for fourth on the UH career treys list at 158.
Joston Thomas recovered from a slow start to post a double-double and helped make it interesting down the stretch after the 'Bows trailed by 15 midway through the second half. Hauns Brereton gave the team a solid effort off the bench, even on 6-for-15 shooting.
It was interesting to see the team go without a point guard for a few minutes down the stretch. Miah Ostrowski still had a solid game (eight assists, two turnovers) but just two dimes came after halftime, and Shaquille Stokes and Bobby Miles didn't show much in the spot minutes they received.
So it's onward to Moscow, Idaho, and don't sleep on the Vandals. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for them, and they've figured out a way to get tied for second place in the WAC at 4-2. UH is only 2-7 against them in Moscow, so the 'Bows will have their work cut out to salvage this road trip.
A reminder: the UH-UI game will also be televised on OC Sports 12 with the folks at ESPN Regional TV calling the game.
Kudos to Dana Takahara-Dias and the Hawaii women's basketball team, which won its third straight game on Thursday night. While none of those three opponents (including Louisiana Tech) are good this year, a 3-1 start is a 3-1 start. Been over 10 years since that happened.
They'll have their hands full on Saturday at the league's best team, Fresno State. But whatever happens there (especially if it's close) UH should return home feeling plenty good about itself.
After the debate inspired from the last posting about the UH team nicknames (which shattered the Court Sense record for responses, so thanks for that all) one might have thought I'd come right back with more postings. But I've increasingly felt like taking more selective moments to blog — usually about once a week — is the way to go to avoid over-saturation, especially with two basketball bloggers on this website. If the demand says otherwise, however, I'm all for it.