HONOLULU (TNS) — Wichita State freshman Rashard Kelly followed in a missed shot with less than five seconds remaining to give the Shockers an 80-79 win over Hawaii on Tuesday at the Sheriff Center in overtime.
WSU (10-1) will play George Washington in the championship game on Thursday.
The crowd grew throughout the game, perhaps delayed by the early tip off. Perhaps word spread that Hawaii had a chance to pull the upset. It isn’t normal to play in a holiday tournament and face home-court advantage, but that is where No. 11 Wichita State found itself on Tuesday.
The Shockers gave the Hawaii fans reason to hope with a turnover-filled first half, poor shooting from three-point range and crucial misses from the line in the final minutes. Foul trouble kept Darius Carter rooted to the bench. The pep band played the theme from “Hawaii 5-0.” The fans chanted “Let’s go, Bows.”
A road game. Not what anybody wanted for Christmas.
Hawaii’s Mike Thomas got loose for a layup, eluding the switching WSU defenders, to give the Warriors a 79-78 lead with 17.7 seconds to play.
Fred VanVleet made his first three of the game seconds earlier to put WSU up 78-77.
Hawaii’s Aaron Valdes made a three-pointer for a 70-68 lead with 43 seconds to play in regulation. Isaac Fleming fouled Ron Baker with 27.5 seconds to play and Baker tied the game with two free throws. Baker blocked a jumper by Negus Chan-Webster and VanVleet grabbed the loose ball. He passed to Baker with about three seconds to play and Baker’s heave from around halfcourt bounced off the rim.
The Shockers led 60-53 when troubles at the foul line resurfaced. Rauno Nurger missed the front end of a one-and-one, then one of two. Baker missed after scoring and drawing a foul. Then Baker missed the first of two. The Warriors took advantage and surged to a 65-64 lead.
Hawaii’s three-point shooting took over early in the first half. The Warriors entered the game shooting 29 percent behind the arc, but they shot eagerly and made three in a row in the second half to go up 47-41.
WSU’s press, as it often does, changed the course of the game. VanVleet made two free throws after the easiest steal of his life — Hawaii’s Stefan Jankovic passed the ball to him under the basket to avoid a five-second count — to cut Hawaii’s lead to 49-46. Baker’s three from the top of the key tied the game. Rashard Kelly snatched a pass near half court and drew a foul. His free throws gave WSU a 51-49 lead with 12:27 to play.
Baker intercepted a wild pass by Isaac Fleming, trying to throw over the press, and fed Kelly for a layup and a 55-51 lead. After Nurger blocked a layup by Quincy Smith, Kelly followed in a miss for a 57-51 lead to cap a 15-2 run in which Hawaii committed five turnovers.
Hawaii’s press and traps, fronted by quick and aggressive guards, messed with WSU‘s offensive flow. The Shockers committed 11 first-half turnovers and Hawaii scored eight points off them.
The Shockers missed their first eight three-pointers, then Zach Brown made two. One from the corner gave WSU a 25-24 lead and one from the wing put WSU ahead 30-26.
Foul shots and offensive rebounds helped the Shocker survive poor shooting in the first half. They made 10 of 12 free throws and grabbed six offensive rebounds to score nine second-chance points. Baker, because of fouls, played only nine minutes and missed all three of his three-pointers.
With junior Evan Wessel sidelined with a sprained ankle, WSU coach Gregg Marshall dipped into his bench often to find a reserve capable of helping. Brown did that with his outside shooting.
Hawaii guard Isaac Fleming came off the bench to score 14 points, making 6 of 8 shots, in the first half.
DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC
George Washington 77, Ohio 49
Colorado 82, DePaul 68
Wichita State 80, Loyola Marymount 53
Hawaii 66, Nebraska 58
Ohio 99, DePaul 78
George Washington 53, Colorado 50
Wichita State 80, Hawaii 79 (OT)
Nebraska vs. Loyola Marymount, 10:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
7th place — DePaul vs. Loyola Marymount/Nebraska, 12:30 p.m.
5th place — Ohio vs. Loyola Marymount/Nebraska, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
Third-place — Colorado vs. Hawaii 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Championship — George Washington vs. Wichita State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)