March 8, 2007
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Behind Jaycee Carroll's game-high 24 points and career-high 13 rebounds, fourth-seeded Utah State held off pesky fifth-seeded Hawai'i, 73-70, Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament at Pan American Center on the campus of New Mexico State.
After Carroll missed the second of two free throws with :05.9 seconds left, he grabbed the offensive rebound before stepping out of bounds. Hawai'i had one last chance to tie the game, but Matt Lojeski's half-court three-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the back rim.
USU improves to 22-10 overall and advances to face top-seed Nevada (28-3), ranked No. 10 in the country, in Friday's semifinal at 6 p.m. The Aggies upset the Wolf Pack, 79-77, in OT on March 1 at Logan. Nevada beat ninth-seeded Idaho, 88-56, in Thursday's first quarterfinal.
The win was USU's sixth-straight in conference tournament quarterfinal action, including two in a row in the WAC, as USU improved to 16-3 in tournament play over the last eight years and 29-22 all-time.
Hawai'i ends its season with a 18-13 overall record after the Rainbow Warriors lost for the third time in last four years in the WAC Tournament at the buzzer. The loss also ends the legendary coaching career of head coach Riley Wallace, who is retiring after 20 years at Hawai'i and 22 years as a Division I head coach.
Carroll continued his success at Pan American Center, but Hawai'i held him to seven points under his average in the arena, as Carroll had gone for 32 points last season and 30 this year during USU's two visits to NMSU. Carroll was 9-of-11 at the free throw line Thursday and 7-of-13 from the field, hitting 1-of-4 from behind the three-point arc.
It was Carroll's fourth double-double of the season and fifth of his career, as he matched his season total vs. Hawai'i, as he had score 13 in USU's 69-61 loss at Hawai'i on Jan. 29 and 11 in the Aggies' 58-50 win over the Rainbow Warriors at Logan on Feb. 14.
USU had three other starters in double-figures, as Chaz Spicer posted 20 points, while Durrall Peterson and Stephen DuCharme netted 10 points apiece.
The Aggies shot 45.5 percent (25-55) from the field, including 44.4 percent (4-9) behind the arc.
After Hawai'i shot 50.0 percent (15-30) from the field in the first half, USU's defense put the clamps on, limiting the Rainbow Warriors to just 29.7 percent (11-37) in the second half. Hawai'i finished the game 26-of-67 (38.8 percent) from the field, hitting 8-of-26 (30.8 percent) from three-point range.
Utah State outscored Hawai'i, 19-10 at the free throw line (19-25 to 10-13).
The Aggies improved to 4-5 when being out-rebounded, which has occurred in five of the last six games, as the Rainbow Warriors had a 41-36 rebounding advantage. Hawai'i garnered 18 offensive boards which led to a 17-6 Hawai'i advantage in second-chance points.
Peterson hit a three-pointer from the top of the arc to open the game, but then Hawai'i got hot from three-point rnage, as they hit 5-of-11 (41.7 percent) in the first half, leading by as much as five in the first half.
However, USU led by as much as six, as Nick Hammer netted a trey to put the Aggies ahead, 18-12 at the 12:35 mark. Hawai'i closed to 22-21 before Utah State scored back-to-back buckets to lead 26-25. The Rainbow Warriors stormed back to take a 36-34 lead before Spicer had a steal and layup with 33 seconds left.
Lojeski also missed a trey at the end of the first half, to send the game into intermission tied at 36-all.
The Aggies took another six point lead at 48-42 after a jumper from Carroll, but Hawai'i pecked away at the deficit and later tied the score for the ninth and final time at 59-59 with 5:21 to play after a Lojeski free throw.
USU took a 67-64 lead after a layup from Spicer with 2:24 to play that would be the Aggies' final field goal, as they hit 6-of-10 free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.
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