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Wichita State denies UH’s upset bid in OT

Brian McInnis

Hawaii did everything in its power to shock the Wichita State Shockers.

The Rainbow Warriors came up just short.

Eleventh-ranked WSU rallied from three points down late in overtime and prevailed 80-79 over the host Rainbow Warriors in a semifinal of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center on Tuesday.

UH (9-4) had numerous chances at one of the biggest upsets in program history both in regulation and in the extra period. Instead, it now must try to prepare for the DHC third-place game on Christmas Day against Colorado (7-4) at 1:30 p.m.

“That one is going to sting for a long, long time,” UH coach Benjy Taylor said.

Mike Thomas scored right under the basket on an inbounds pass from Roderick Bobbitt for a 79-78 lead with 17.7 seconds to play.

Wichita State, of the Missouri Valley Conference, called timeout. Point guard Fred VanVleet dribbled to the right and attempted a 3, which was off the mark. But forward Rashard Kelly gathered the rebound on the far side of the basket, pivoted, and put a shot in off the glass with 3.4 seconds to go.

UH was without timeouts. Bobbitt took the inbounds pass and dribbled to the top of the key. He dumped the ball off to his left. Thomas gathered it and had time to get off a runner from 16 feet, but his shot hit back iron and WSU players dogpiled on the Sheriff court.

“We did the big things to win the game, we just didn’t do the little things down the stretch to win the game, and that’s what hurts,” Taylor said.

WSU (10-1) faces George Washington for the Diamond Head Classic championship at 3:30 on Thursday.

The game featured 11 ties and 22 lead changes in front of a crowd of about 5,000.

Aaron Valdes, who helped UH get a lead late in regulation, finished with 17 points. Freshman Isaac Fleming also scored 17 but fouled out late in regulation.

Forward Stefan Jankovic added 12 points before fouling out. He hit a top-arc 3 for UH’s first lead in overtime, 75-74. Thomas scored on a dump-off from Bobbitt for a three-point lead with 2:17 to go.

Both teams missed some opportunities until Darius Carter made a free throw and VanVleet followed with a 3 for a 78-77 Wichita lead with 34 seconds left.

Thomas (nine points) gave UH its last lead on an inbounds pass from Bobbitt, giving the point guard his 10th assist.

UH hit 10 3-pointers on 23 attempts (43.5 percent) in defeat.

Baker led the Shockers with 17 points, albeit on 5-for-19 shooting. VanVleet added 13 points, five assists and three steals. Kelly had 12 points and Carter scored 10.

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