For the fourth straight year, Hawaii found itself in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic consolation bracket. And for the fourth straight year, the Rainbow Warriors found a way to get to the tournament’s consolation championship game.
Christian Standhardinger was all net on a 15-footer from the left baseline with about 1.4 seconds left and the senior forward batted down a fullcourt desperation inbounds heave by Saint Mary’s in a 76-74 victory Monday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
UH will play Oregon State in the fifth-place game at 11 a.m. on Christmas Day.
Standhardinger finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and four steals. He was 14-for-17 from the free-throw line. Forward Isaac Fotu added 13 points and guard Brandon Spearman had 12. Reserve Aaron Valdes scored all of his 10 points in the first half.
A night after falling to Boise State 62-61 in the DHC first round, UH (8-3) survived another back-and-forth affair before a crowd of under 5,000. There were 11 ties and five lead changes.
Fotu spun baseline for a basket over Brad Waldow for a 74-72 lead with less than a minute to go at the end of the shot clock. SMC called timeout and Beau Levesque drove on Fotu for a tying basket and got the foul. But he missed the free throw and UH called timeout with 21.1 seconds left to set up a play. Point guard Keith Shamburger drained clock and found Standhardinger at the left short corner. He arced his shot over a lunging 6-foot-9 Brad Waldow.
UH had just three turnovers in the first half to 13 for SMC, helping the tourney host carry a four-point halftime lead.
The ‘Bows scored the first five points of the second half for a nine-point lead.
Shamburger nailed a 3 for a 53-45 lead with less than 15 minutes to play, but the Gaels rallied again within two on a putback by Waldow.
Davis Rozitis gave UH some breathing room with an inside hoop, but SMC came back within 61-60 on a 3 after the ‘Bows failed to corral a missed free throw.
Spearman flushed a missed Valdes fast-break layup to get the crowd back into it up 63-60, but UH gave up an open 3 at the other end and the Gaels made good to tie it at 63.
Fotu gave UH a three-point lead again on a putback and Standhardinger drained his 12th and 13th free throws to go up five.
Standhardinger answered a SMC 3 with a take for a 72-68 lead. But SMC’s Beau Levesque nailed an open deep ball to knot it at 72 with 1:15 remaining.
Standhardinger connected on his first nine free-throw attempts, though he missed his last two going into the half (10-for-13).
Valdes played through a chip in his elbow suffered in the Boise game and scored 10 points off the bench in the first half. He entered once starting forward Fotu went out with two fouls and reserve center Davis Rozitis picked up three in short order.
It was the second time UH and SMC met in the Diamond Head Classic. UH guard Dwain Williams scored a tournament-record 36 points in a loss to the Gaels in the 2009 third-place game. Eran Ganot was with UH’s staff at the time, but is now a fourth-year assistant with the Gaels.