12:05 AM ET, March 4, 2005
Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, Hawaii
HONOLULU (AP) -- It took more than a broken nose to keep Nick Fazekas in check.Fazekas scored 20 points, including four late free throws, and had 12 rebounds to help No. 25 Nevada beat Hawaii 55-47 on Thursday night to wrap up the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title."It's a huge win because we couldn't win it last year even when we had such a great team, and this year everybody picked us low and doubted us," Fazekas said.It was the ninth straight victory for the Wolf Pack (23-5, 15-2 WAC) and their first win ever at Hawaii. They were previously 0-7 in Honolulu."The streak is nice but you don't get any banners to hang. I'll take winning the title any day," Fazekas said.Kevinn Pinkney added 14 points and 13 rebounds for Nevada, which reached its best mark since the 1945-46 season and has won every WAC road game this season."To go undefeated on the road is quite an accomplishment," Fazekas said. "It shows that it doesn't matter and you can win on the road or home."The Wolf Pack seemed to have put the game away after Pinkney's field goal made it 47-37 with 2:55 left, but Jake Sottos' 3-pointer sparked a 10-2 Hawaii run that cut it to 49-47 with 56 seconds left.The Rainbow Warriors (14-12, 6-11) couldn't get any closer, dropping their fifth straight game and the seventh out of their last eight.Fazekas hit all four of his free throws with less than 40 seconds left and finished with 10 points from the free-throw line.He was playing with a clear, plastic face shield because he broke his nose in the last minutes of a victory Saturday at Fresno State. The 6-foot-11 sophomore entered the game ranked 11th in the nation in scoring with a 21.3-point average."It took a little getting used to in the beginning, but once I got into the flow of the game, it was fine," said Fazekas, who had eight points and nine rebounds in the first half.Matt Gibson led Hawaii with 14 points, 12 in the second half. He was the only Hawaii player in double figures."We did our job on Fazekas, there was only one or two times when he even got a good look," Gibson said. "We stopped him like we wanted to, we held everybody else under their averages, we just couldn't get a shot to fall."Hawaii struggled from the field, shooting 20-of-68."The defensive effort was there. The offense wasn't," Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said.The Rainbow Warriors made a strong run in the second half by penetrating into the paint and tightening their own defense.Julian Sensley returned to the starting lineup for the first time in four games, but contributed little. After starting his first 55 games at Hawaii, he came off the bench in the last three because of ineffectiveness.Sensley scored just six points on 2-of-10 shooting. He missed all five of his 3-point attempts.Nevada was off and running early in the game.Mo Charlo's fast-break layup gave the Wolf Pack a 14-5 lead and capped a 10-0 run with 13:13 left in the first half. But they only managed one free throw by Ramon Session in the following 9:16.Hawaii failed to capitalize, missing shot after shot. The Rainbow Warriors were just 6-of-31 (19 percent) from the field, including 1-of-9 from 3-point range in the ugly first half.Kyle Shiloh's steal near midcourt and uncontested layup closed a 8-0 run for Nevada, which took a 23-14 lead into the break.Nevada, which last week cracked the AP Top 25 for the first time, is 17-0 when holding an opponent to 60 points or less.The Wolf Pack, who haven't lost since a 66-63 home loss to Fresno State on Jan. 29, close out the regular season at San Jose State on Saturday. The Rainbow Warriors will finish at home Saturday against Fresno State.
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