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George Washington advances to Diamond Head Classic final

Brian McInnis

Kevin Larsen blocked Askia Booker’s tying 3-point attempt with two seconds left and George Washington survived a grind of a game to get to the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic championship with a 53-50 victory over Colorado at the Stan Sheriff Center on Tuesday.

The Washington, D.C.-based Colonials (8-3) of the Atlantic 10 Conference will play either No. 11 Wichita State or host Hawaii for the championship on Christmas Day. The Shockers and Rainbow Warriors tip off at 4 p.m. in the second semifinal Tuesday.

GW coach Mike Lonergan elected not to foul up three with the Buffaloes (7-4) inbounding with under 11 seconds left. Larsen, a forward, switched onto the Buffaloes point guard Booker near the top of the arc and timed his leap perfectly for the swat, and teammate Joe McDonald corralled the loose ball at the buzzer.

It was fitting a defensive play was the decider as the teams struggled to score throughout the semifinal, combining to shoot 2-for-20 on 3s.

“We hung in there, and Joe McDonald (game-high 14 points) really battled,” Lonergan said. “I thought he was a key for our win. We made enough stops, the 1-3-1 (zone) really helped us a lot.”

CU (7-4) of the Pac-12 fell into the third-place game as Booker (eight points, 4-13 shooting) dealt with early foul trouble and couldn’t replicate his career-best 27 from the first round vs. DePaul.

Consolation semifinal: Ohio 99, DePaul 78

The Bobcats of the Mid-American Conference sizzled with 59.4 percent shooting en route to setting the Diamond Head Classic scoring record, a day after they put up just 49 points in a 28-point loss to George Washington.

Ohio (4-5) got 31 points from Javarez Willis on 11-for-18 shooting, including 7-for-14 on 3-pointers. Maurice Ndour and Antonio Campbell had double-doubles and Ryan Taylor and Treg Setty added 17 points apiece to get the Bobcats into Thursday’s consolation title game.

“We’re bipolar, I guess,” Ohio coach Saul Phillips said. “I tried to emphasize to the guys that things aren’t as bad as they felt (Monday) night. This is an emotional group and … they were at emotional rock bottom. It’s heartening to see them turn around and perform how they did.”

The Blue Demons (6-6) of the Big East dropped their fifth straight game.

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