Rainbows knock off
Fresno State, 88-77
English, Kuebler spark
By Paul Honda
Then English class began, and the Rainbows excelled en route to an 88-77 victory over front-running
Mike Kuebler poured in 21 of his 29 points in the first half, and Carl English tallied 23 of his game-high 30 points after intermission to lead
A robust crowd of 7,891 enjoyed a productive, if uneven performance by
Carl English and Mike Kuebler find a stat that leaves a sour taste.
Tony Akpan scored 10 points off the bench for the Rainbows, who got a combined eight points from starters Haim Shimonovich and Phil Martin. Shimonovich, a 6-foot-10 junior, grabbed 10 rebounds and delivered five assists, while Akpan hustled for six caroms.
Damon Jackson led
Veteran Rainbows' head coach Riley Wallace was pleased with the offensive output, but it was defense that stoked his fire. "As long as my guys come out to play defense, they'll find offense," he said.
It was a crucial win for
The streak, he added, is notable for a very simple reason. "People may think we don't think of things like that, but we do," Wallace said.
English agreed. "The streak gives us confidence. We feel like nobody can come here and beat us. If we could take it on the road, we'd be tough," he said.
Coach Ray Lopes' Bulldogs visit SMU Thursday and Louisiana Tech Saturday. The Bulldogs, unbeaten at home like UH, is now 1-3 on the road.
The primary reasons for
The Rainbow crowd, growing more fanatical each season, was a factor. "I started out hitting a couple of shots, and they start yelling. We go into halftime, and the adrenaline is going so fast," Kuebler said. "I didn't even remember what's going on."
Kuebler's 3-pointer from the left corner with 2 seconds left in the half came off a pass from Mark Campbell. "That had to be a heartbreaker," Wallace said. Kuebler's father has been in town, visiting from
Kuebler's hot shooting didn't surprise English or Wallace. "I've been trying to get him to shoot more, but that last shot, he had no choice," Wallace said.
"(Travis) DeManby's following me all around, and (Kuebler) just hit five in a row," English said. "I'm thinking, what the hell is he doing following me?"
While Kuebler, a lightly-recruited junior college transfer who is turning into a scoring machine, shot 7 of 11 from the field. The rest of the team shot 7 of 20 from the field before halftime.
Kuebler's effectiveness was pronounced because of
With the Bulldogs back to a man defense -- and with more attention on Kuebler -- the lanes opened up for
Mark Campbell (right) plays defense against Fresno State guard Terry Pettis.
After Kuebler's scoring spree, the rest of the Rainbows -- i.e. English got hot - picked up the slack in the game's most critical run.
After Tony Akpan hustled for an offensive board and left-handed putback, English pulled up for a 17-foot jumper from the baseline to give
The Bulldogs got no closer. English, who sank all 10 of his free-throw attempts, sank a pair of foul shots, while Campbell hit 4 of 4 as Hawaii took a 77-63 lead.
English, denied opportunities for much of the game, continued his scoring onslaught, pulling up for another 17-footer from the baseline to beat the shot clock. He added four more free throws and a breakaway layup on a long pass from Shimonovich as the Rainbows won going away.
English, 1 of 6 in the first half, connected on 7 of 7 in the second half.
"They tried to take Carl out of his rhythm, but you can't hold him down for a whole game. He'll find his points," Wallace said. "And he guarded Jackson, their best scorer."
Hawaii coach Riley Wallace reflects on a win over Fresno St.
Kuebler, who scored a season-high 30 two weeks ago in the Rainbow Classic final against
English shot 8 of 13 from the field, including 4 of 6 from the arc. Kuebler sank 10 of 15, finishing 6 of 9 from 3-point range.
The Rainbow's pre-game meal of chicken, potatoes and pasta won't change for a while. "Coach doesn't want to change anything," Kuebler said. "He's kind of superstitious."
For now, until the rest of the WAC catches wind of
The Rainbows committed 19 turnovers, far more than the 12 Wallace finds acceptable against top teams. Also, English and Kuebler played all 40 minutes.
"I gotta find two-minute breaks for them each half. If the game had gone on longer, we might've had some trouble," he said.
Wallace spoke with former
The game was a war at times, with bodies flying all over the court, but there was virtually zero trash-talking -- a significant difference from
Do you know the way to …
Hawaii goes on the road next; the Rainbows are 1-2 away from the islands. The ‘Bows play at San Jose State Saturday before flying to Fresno for a rematch Thursday, Jan. 23. "It's gonna be tough when we go there," English said.
Finding the winning touch away from home is something Wallace doesn't want to get obsessed with. "It's not something I can do. They have to do it collectively as a team. They have to take the energy of our fans here," he said. "In
The officials -- Jim Bannowsky, Brian Sorenson and Bryan Barr -- met for two minutes at midcourt to discuss a call in the lane late in the second half.
Officials gather to discuss a key call late in the game.
Damon Jackson's pull-up 6-footer in the lane drew contact from Phil Martin, who seemed to have position in the lane. After the blocking foul on Martin was assessed, Wallace rolled his eyes and had a short comment for the referees. "I told them, ‘That's two replays the crowd has seen, and the boos got louder each time,'" Wallace said. "I knew they weren't gonna give up the foul."
Wallace wasn't dissatisfied. "The main thing is, they were consistent on both ends," he said. "The referee said, ‘I know you don't like the call, but I made it and you gotta live with it.'"
Monday Night crowd
The near-8,000 in attendance was solid for a week night. The Rainbows, though, are hoping for a sellout sometime soon. Only six home dates remain. "They love these fans," Wallace said of his players. "They want that sellout. They ask before our games, ‘Is this gonna be a sellout?'"
The prospect of building more interest -- more in-house interest -- is a puzzle he'd like to solve. "We might have to do more road games. That's what
UH games on the road are usually not televised by the host station, KFVE.
Last year's team relied heavily on the scoring punch of Predrag Savovic. "It's a different team with different weapons. We work harder, by far, on defense," Wallace noted. "They had the potential to blow someone out more last year. This team is more blue-collar. We're playing more intelligently."
"They could've come here in December when we had that 19-day stretch (without a game), but they wanted to play USF and get some early wins," Wallace said.