HNC Home Page
view from the top : Numerous trails of Mount Naomi lead through some of the most spectacular alpine scenery found in the intermountain west./ Photo by Melissa Kamis
Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

"The First Amendment gives everyone -- including nuts -- free speech,
but free speech has a purpose: that the people may judge for themselves
and bury the nuts with indignation. We fail our founding fathers if we
let blowhards rage on talk radio, in little magazines and in nasty
books without delivering counterattacks.

   -- Barron's, Aug. 9, 2004 (Thanks to alert WORDster John Mollwitz)

Aggies fall hard to Rainbow Warriors in first round of NIT

By Tyler Riggs

Mike Ahmad tries to block Hawai'i's Haim Shimonovich in the Aggies' opening game against the Rainbow Warriors on Wednesday. The Aggies lost and ended their season. / Photo by John Zsiray

March 17, 2004 | Maybe the NCAA Selection Committee was right.

The Utah State men's basketball team fell to Hawai'i, 85-74, Wednesday in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament.

The Rainbow Warriors (20-11) used hot shooting and strong interior defense in handing the Aggies (25-4) their first home loss of the year and worst loss at the Spectrum since a 60-41 setback in 1997 against Utah.

"We got to 20 wins and it's the first time we've beaten a ranked opponent on the road," Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said. "When you are shooting like we are shooting, that's got to tear what heart they had left in them out."

The Warriors shot 61.8 percent for the game, their second-highest percentage of the season. All-WAC guard Michael Kuebler led the team with 28 points, including four three-pointers, the single-game record for Hawai'i.

"They got a lot of open looks in the first half and got some confidence going, after that it wasn't much of a game," Utah State head coach Stew Morrill said. "We had a few small runs but there wasn't much to it."

After Hawai'i built an early lead, the Aggies closed to 24-25 with 6:15 remaining in the first. The Warriors then went on a 9-0 run, holding the Aggies scoreless for the next three minutes.

The Aggies were able to make small runs throughout the rest of the game, but Hawai'i, mainly behind the Kuebler's hot shooting and a career-high 18 points from Ogden native Jeff Blackett, kept stifling Utah State's hope.

"At the end of the [shot] clock we can't rest because nine out of 10 times they'll get a bucket," Aggie guard Cardell Butler said. "The way they run is just consistent movement, we tried our best."

Butler had 15 points for the Aggies and junior forward Spencer Nelson added a career-high 24.

Coming off a loss to Cal State Northridge in the Big West Tournament and not being selected to the NCAA's, the Aggies had faced double-disappointment in the last five days. Morrill said that couldn't excuse the team's play.

"I'm not going to use that excuse," he said. "We got our butts beat, that's what happened, they played better than we did."

Nelson said the weekend was disappointing for the team, but agreed with his coach that it couldn't be an excuse.

"If you don't have the guts or the mental toughness to say 'We didn't get into the NCAA Tournament' and be able to focus on a good Hawai'i team in the NIT Tournament, then you're not mentally tough enough," he said. "I don't know where we were tonight at times."

Hawaii built a 43-32 halftime lead behind 65.5 percent shooting. Kuebler had half of his 28 points in the first. The Warriors will meet the winner of the Nebraska/Niagra NIT game later this week. The Aggies' season is over.

"It's been a great season, but it has also been disappointing that we didn't finish our goals," Nelson said. "The only one we accomplished was to win the regular season."


Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
Best viewed 800 x 600.