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WAC Quarterfinals Recap

March 13, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments




Western Athletic Quarterfinals Recap

Recap by Steve Sheridan

No. 1 Nevada 75, No. 8 SMU 60
Reigning WAC Player of the Year Kirk Snyder had a huge game for the Wolf Pack, scoring 22 points and grabbing nine rebounds in Nevada’s 75-60 quarterfinal win over SMU on Thursday night.

The Mustangs were overwhelmed by Nevada’s offensive attack, which also featured 18 points from Todd Okeson and Nick Fazekas’ 14 points. SMU, led by Bryan Hopkins (22 points) was able to stay close for the first half, but the home team was able to pull away in the second half. The Wolf Pack shot 49 percent from the field for the game, and shot the ball well during a key 16-3 run midway through the second half that put the game away. Okeson and Snyder each scored six points during the run, in which SMU mustered only three free throws, and Nevada never looked back after that point.

After a hot start, the Mustangs shot just 26 percent in the second half, hitting only six field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Eric Castro added 15 points and seven boards for SMU, but in the end the team was unable to match the offensive firepower displayed by the top seed.

No. 2 UTEP 62, No. 7 Louisiana Tech 55
The third time was not the charm for Tech on Thursday night, as the Bulldogs fell to the UTEP Miners, 62-55, behind the strong play of Omar Thomas.

Thomas has 20 points and six rebounds off the bench for UTEP, as the Miners raced out to a big 42-30 halftime lead and never looked back. In a game in which neither team shot the ball particularly well, UTEP managed to hit 40 percent of its shots and escaped with the victory. Chris Craig was certainly unafraid to hoist up the shots for the Miners, as he went 4-of-10 from three-point range for 12 points, with all of his shots coming from behind the arc. Jason Williams also had a fine game under the glass, scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Louisiana Tech had three players in double figures, but didn’t receive enough production from its bench. Using only three players off the bench, Barry Thompson scored all seven of the Bulldogs’ bench points on the evening, as the team as a whole shot just 35 percent. Paul Millsap led the way with 16 points and 12 rebounds in a losing effort.

No. 3 Boise State 71 No. 6 Fresno State 54
If a team shoots nearly 60 percent from the floor over the course of a game, there is not much an opponent can do about that. Boise State gave out that lesson to the Fresno State Bulldogs the hard way on Thursday night, taking a 71-54 victory.

The Bulldogs went almost six minutes without a field goal in a first-half stretch in which the third-seeded Broncos went on an 8-0 to take a double digit lead that would never be threatened. After that run, Fresno State was unable to get within 10 points the rest of the way, as Boise State, led by Aaron Haynes’ 14 points, shot 59 percent for the game. Three other Broncos scored in double figures, as the higher seed simply dominated play in the second half, cruising to an easy victory.

Marcus West had a game-high 16 points for Fresno State, which also had four players score over 10 points, but the remainder of the team contributed only seven points. The Bulldogs simply had no answer for the red-hot Bronco shooting, however, as the lead grew to as much as 23 points in the second half.

No. 4 Rice 70, No. 5 Hawaii 68
Michael Harris and Jason McKrieth combined for 48 points on Thursday night as the Rice Owls staved off a late Hawaii comeback in a 70-68 quarterfinal win.

The first half of this game was all about runs, as the Rainbow Warriors came out strong, sprinting out to a 10-2 lead on 5-of-5 shooting to begin things. The Owls came right back, however, with a 12-3 run of their own to regain a 14-13 advantage. The teams battled back-and-forth for the remainder of the half, and Hawaii went into intermission with a slight 39-35 lead. The Owls were clinging to a 70-67 lead with 3.8 seconds left when Hawaii’s Logan Lee hit the front end of a one-and-one before deliberately missing the second, but Phil Martin was unable to knock down a short jumper upon corralling the rebound, a shot that would have sent the game into overtime.

Michael Kuebler paced the Rainbow Warriors with 15 points, helped along by Julian Sensley with 14 points and Jeff Blackett with 13. However, the team’s respectable 43 percent shooting was not enough to hang with the fiery Owls, who hit over 56 percent of its shots on the day.

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