Even with their fans waving 1,000 Hawaiian ti leaves in the stands, shipped to Spokane by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Rainbow Warriors would need more than the good luck the leaves represent to beat No. 5 Maryland.
So they tried to outwork the Terrapins. And, for most of the game — which ended 73-60 in favor of Maryland — it worked.
Hawaii out-rebounded 16-3 on the offensive glass and 42-36 overall. This veteran laden team, knowing NCAA Sanctions assured this would be the upperclassmen's only shot at dancing, did not go down easily. One possession in particular summed up the Rainbow Warrior's experience here in Spokane, Washington.
Early in the second half Stefan Jankovic (14 points, 8 rebounds) missed two shots from short range before Maryland appeared to come down with the rebound. But Roderick Bobbitt (6 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds) slapped the ball loose and put up a reverse in traffic that fell short before falling to him as he fell to the ground. He dropped the ball off to Jankovic who finally got his shot to fall. The Rainbow Warriors came here to outwork their power conference opponents. It worked against Cal, and gave the program its first NCAA Tournament victory, but wasn't quite enough tonight.
Maryland opened the game by missing its first six shots, and eight of the first nine. Defensively though Maryland held strong and didn't let Hawaii pull away. It took over 13 minutes for the Big Ten's Terrapins to grab the lead, but when they did on a Diamond Stone (14 points) lay in with 7:58 to play in the first, it was just a 14-13 game.
The teams traded leads in a close game until the middle of the second half. If Maryland's offense was cold to start the game then Hawaii's was frigid as it finished.
Over just shy of a minute, from 10:31 to 9:33 marks in the second half, Maryland ran out a 9-0 run. Within 35 seconds the Terps got a pair of dunks from Stone and Jake Layman (10 points, 6 rebounds) and a Melo Trimble (24 points, 8 rebounds) three. That seven point eruption in the amount of time that until this season was allowed for a possession completely blew Hawaii away. Eran Ganot was forced to call a timeout to stop the bleeding.
It didn't. Maryland's run grew to 14-0.
The unanswered points streak came to an end with a Quincy Smith (11 points) free throw with 7:12 remaining, but the Rainbow Warriors' offense never returned. They shot just 28.2% from the field in the second half. Over nine minutes in the middle of the half they connected on just one of 17 field goals.
Not exactly how the Rainbow Warriors wanted to go out. Despite that this team leaves a legacy of making the NCAA Tournament and working hard, along with being the first team in Hawaii history to win a game in the Big Dance. Not bad for first year head coach Ganot.
Maryland advances to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003. The Terrapins will face No. 1 Kansas on Thursday, March 24, in Louisville, Kentucky.