Keith Shamburger was not to be denied on Saturday night for Hawaii.
The Rainbow Warriors point guard nailed an improbable, banked 3-pointer from beyond the top of the arc over 7-foot-6 UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye to send the game into overtime, then hit the clinching free throws in the extra period to seal a 90-86 victory for UH, which swept its two-game road trip.
Shamburger finished with 17 points and 11 assists a day after attending his aunt’s funeral in Los Angeles. He had the last word on a game that swung wildly, with UH up double figures in the first half and down by double figures in the second before a sold-out crowd at the 5,000-seat Bren Events Center.
UH improved to 14-5 overall and 3-2 in the Big West while dealing the Anteaters (13-8, 4-1) their first loss of league play. For the second straight road game, the entire UH starting five scored in double figures. This time, the first five accounted for all 90 points for the ‘Bows, which was narrowly enough to outdo six Anteaters in double-figure scoring.
Sophomore forward Isaac Fotu scored a career-high 30 points in the victory on 13-for-16 shooting. He got the extra period started with a baseline jumper, then converted a three-point play on a lob over Ndiaye for an 83-82 lead.
UCI, which entered the game on a six-game winning streak, scored the next four points on consecutive baskets, but Christian Standhardinger (14 points) fouled out Ndiaye on a take to the basket and made both foul shots to cut UCI’s lead to 86-85.
Garrett Nevels (19 points) hit a floater for an 87-86 lead with a minute left in OT and UH got a key stop on a missed drive by Alex Young coming out of an Anteaters timeout.
UCI took a foul on Shamburger on the inbounds pass. He missed the first free throw and made the second with 22.4 seconds left for a two-point lead. UCI dribbled up and called its final timeout with 12.8 seconds left, and it went for the win. UCI’s 3-point look rimmed out and the ball went out of bounds to UH.
Shamburger was fouled again and calmly drained two for the final margin, as UCI’s desperation fullcourt heave was well off the mark and wouldn’t have made a difference.
The Rainbow Warriors opened the game making their first eight shots for a 10-point lead, but UCI caught up by the end of the half, by going to a 2-3 zone defense the ‘Bows struggled to solve during a 15-2 UCI run to close the period.
Young capped the frenzy with a 40-foot running, banked 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer for a 43-38 Irvine lead at the break.
UH went the final 5:26 of the period without a field goal, while UCI wound up shooting 56 percent in the period after its slow start.
Fotu converted a three-point play to make it 61-58 at the midpoint of the second half. He then converted a layup on a fullcourt pass to cap a 9-0 run and force a UCI timeout.
Ndiaye throw down a dunk to end the run, but that’s when UH went to a little Hack-a-Mamadou to close the gap a bit.
Standhardinger converted two free throws to make it 68-64 UCI with 6:07 to play. Brandon Spearman (10 points) made one of two free throws to cut the deficit to three, and Fotu scored on a lob from Shamburger to make it a 70-69 game with 4:30 to play, but Ndiaye threw down a putback dunk to extend the lead back to four.
UH cut it to three and got the ball back, but a 3-pointer to tie by Nevels was swatted out of bounds, setting up Shamburger’s wild look coming out of a timeout.