Hawaii turns tide in home finale
By Ferd Lewis
When Brandon Adams jammed a rim-rattling dunk with 1 minute, 53 seconds remaining last night its Richter Scale ferocity spoke of a lot more than the two points that came with it.
At 67-59, it sealed, for all intents and purposes, the end of the most frustrating University of Hawai'i men's basketball losing streak in 20 years — and a lot more — en route to an eventual and emotional 74-63 stunning of Nevada on Senior Night.
It was a dunk, to the delight of a Stan Sheriff Center crowd of 3,469, that was equal parts therapeutic and exclamatory for a player, a team and, yes, a state that had experienced a trying day.
So much so that "I went up ready to slam it down hard and break the rim if I had to," Adams acknowledged with a grin afterward.
Small wonder, perhaps, after all they had been through in this beyond-trying season with a 10-18 (3-11 conference ) record. As if being deposited in the Western Athletic Conference cellar wasn't enough, the 'Bows were chased out of their Friday night hotel stay in the wee hours and then, for about five hours, told their home finale would be postponed.
So, when they finally got to take the court they did so with a second-chance resolve and a passion we haven't seen much of this season, immediately bolting to an 8-0 lead.
They then made key defensive stops — especially on Luke Babbitt, the conference's best player. They snared the rebounds, hit their free throws and, get this, the WAC's worst shooting team lit it up from 3-point range (61.5 percent). Moreover, they did it with the confidence of a team on a mission.
Time and again, Adhar Mayen and Hiram Thompson popped 3-pointers with a not-to-be-denied assurance on a night that would mark career scoring highs for each, 17 for Mayen and 19 by Thompson. And Roderick Flemings turned in among his most impressive double-doubles (20 points, 12 rebounds).
And, when the Wolf Pack threatened to come back as so many other teams have this season, the 'Bows, to a man, rose to the challenge. Where they buckled in the past, they showed determination and patience this time.
So when Thompson led Adams with a pinpoint pass with an open basket in sight, Adams knew what went with it.
"When it (the dunk) went down it felt like the losing streak was done," Adams said. "I felt like this was the one everybody in Hawai'i needed; everybody that was down after being scared by the tsunami (warning), the losing streak, everything.
"It was meant to be uplifting; to pick up everybody's spirits a little."