Maui Sports

Hawaii faces Spartans in WAC tourney opener

March 7, 2011, 8:32 AM HST
* Updated March 7, 8:33 AM
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By Fred Guzman

Hawaii has beaten San Jose State twice this season. It will need a third win over the Spartans on in order to advance in the WAC basketball tournament that tips off Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Following a 0-5 start in the conference, UH has played very well. But the Bows did hit a big bump on the road on Saturday that ended a five-game winning streak.

Fresno State jumped out to a 15-4 lead and were up 45-28 at intermission. UH, coming off a win at San Jose State, never recovered from the slow start in the 85-70 loss.

That ended a regular season during which the Rainbows went 18-10 overall and 8-8 in the WAC for fifth place after being picked to finish last in the nine-team conference in the pre-season polls.

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No. 6 Nevada meets No. 7 Fresno State in the other opening-round game at the Orleans Arena.

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Two UH players were recognized on the all-WAC selections. Senior forward Bill Amis was named to the second team while junior guard Zane Johnson was picked to the all-newcomer squad and was an all-WAC honorable mention.

Utah State forward Tai Wesley was named player of the year while Stew Morrill was named coach of the year after guiding the Aggies to a fourth straight conference title.

Joining Wesley on the first team were Boise State guard La’Shard Anderson, New Mexico State forward Troy Gillenwater, San Jose State guard Adrian Oliver and Utah State guard Brockeith Pane.

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The 6-foot-9 Amis averaged 15.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and a WAC-best 2.2 blocks, despite missing a significant portion of the season to a foot injury.

Besides Amis, the second team was Utah State guard Brian Green, Nevada forward Dario Hunt, Idaho guard Jeff Ledbetter and Fresno State center Greg Smith.

The 6-6 Johnson averaged a team-high 15.8 points and emerged as one of the league’s most dangerous long-range shooters.

Johnson was joined on the newcomer team by Nevada guard Deonte Burton, Nevada forward Olek Czyz, USU’s Pane and Fresno State guard Tim Steed. Burton was the WAC Freshman of the Year.

Hawaii defeated San Jose State 77-71 on the road last Thursday largely because it was again able to contain Oliver, the nation’s third-leading scorer, to 18 points on 4 of 15 shooting.

Oliver’s 24.3 scoring average ranks behind only BYU’s celebrated Jimmer Fredette, who is averaging 27.9, and Providence’s Marshon Brook, who is scoring at a 24.8 clip.

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