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UH bests Oregon State to close out Diamond Head Classic

By Brian McInnis

LAST UPDATED: 2:49 p.m. HST, Dec 25, 2013

The Hawaii basketball team finished the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic tournament in style with a 79-73 Christmas Day victory over Oregon State at the Stan Sheriff Center.

In UH's first game against a Pac-12 opponent in seven years, the Rainbow Warriors (9-3) played inspired for some stretches and held it together for others to win the tournament's consolation championship with a 2-1 record. Overall, the Rainbow Warriors won for the seventh time in eight games in front of a crowd of about 3,500.

It was the third time in the last four years UH won the Diamond Head consolation title -- losing on the first night of the tournament and rallying to win the next two games.

"We love it," said senior guard Brandon Spearman, who notched his first career double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. "We don't strive (for) nothing but greatness on this team. Everybody think we should be in the championship game, but you know, it happens. We was one point shy of (tying) Boise State (in a 62-61 loss). It was a tough one but it just shows a lot about our team. Coming back and beating Saint Mary's (76-74 on Monday), and today on Christmas beating a good Oregon State team. I love the team that we have."

The starting five of the 'Bows carried the load. Point guard Keith Shamburger had a season-high 10 assists, nine points and six rebounds, forward Christian Standhardinger scored all of his 15 points in the first half and forward Isaac Fotu added 17 points despite going 3-for-10 from the free-throw line.

The 'Bows were just 16-for-29 at the stripe, but made up for it with only nine turnovers to 17 for OSU (7-4) and shot 49.1 percent from the field. 

UH went on a 23-4 run once OSU tied the game at 42 early in the second half, building a 19-point lead, but had some trouble putting OSU away. Shamburger hit a top-arc 3 near the end of the shot clock with 1:20 to go for a 74-63 lead that basically sealed it. Standhardinger took a charge with 28.5 seconds left. Beavers guard Roberto Nelson (22 points) helped narrow the gap late with the game basically in hand for UH.

"That was a real good win for us," UH coach Gib Arnold said. "A victory against a Pac-12 team, a team that went in and beat Maryland at Maryland. A team that has a very high offensive efficiency rating. They've got a phenomenal player in Roberto Nelson. Gosh, I watched a lot of film on him and he's even better in person."

Shamburger swiped a pass from OSU and hit Garrett Nevels with an alley-oop slam in the open court for UH's biggest lead to that point at 57-46 with 12 minutes to play.

The 'Bows got it up to 19 on an open dunk by Fotu with eight minutes left. OSU scored the next six points, but backup guard Quincy Smith got a steal and layup to end the mini-run.

Fotu missed the front end of a 1-and-1 foul shot and OSU completed a three-point play at the other end to get within 69-58 with 4:07 to go. His nightmare day at the line continued with another missed 1-and-1 front miss, but OSU turned it over on a lob attempt that time.

Nelson scored on a putback to make it a seven-point game with over two minutes left, but Nevels came back with a mid-range jumper. That was as close as it got until OSU scored just before the buzzer.

UH built a 10-point lead late in the first half and saw it all but disappear by halftime, despite 15 points in the period by Standhardinger.

President Barack Obama, who attended OSU's first game of the tournament, was not present to support his brother-in-law Craig Robinson, the OSU coach. But Obama's daughters, Sasha and Malia, sat behind their uncle and the OSU bench.

After losing 62-61 to Boise State on the opening night on the tournament, UH defeated Saint Mary's 76-74 in the consolation semifinals to set up the matchup with OSU.

OSU closed the first half on an 8-0 run and trailed 40-38 at the break.

No. 14 Iowa State and Boise State will play for the Diamond Head championship at 3:30 p.m.

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