For the second straight year, the University of Hawaii basketball team took a nationally ranked opponent to the wire in the semifinals of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
The Rainbow Warriors’ upset bid today again came up just short and No. 3 Oklahoma escaped with an 84-81 win at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Oklahoma (10-0) will face Harvard for the Diamond Head Classic championship at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Hawaii (8-2), which lost to No. 11 Wichita State by a point in overtime in a DHC semifinal a year ago, takes on Auburn in the third-place game at 1:30 p.m.
Harvard advanced to the Christmas Day final with a 69-51 win over Auburn in the game preceding the UH-Oklahoma semifinal.
UH guard Roderick Bobbitt scored a career-high 32 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range, and 13-for-16 from the free-throw line. Center Stefan Jankovic scored 17 points and UH overcame an early 16-point deficit to give Oklahoma its tightest test of the season to date.
The Sooners won their first nine games by nearly 24 points per game and represented the highest ranked team UH had faced since defeating No. 2 Kansas in the final of the 1997 Rainbow Classic.
Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield scored 18 of his 27 points in the first half. Khadeem Lattin added 17 points and eight rebounds and guard Isaiah Cousins finished with 14 points and six assists. The Sooners scored their last 15 points from the foul line.
Hield hit four 3-pointers in the first 4:20 of play and later drove in for a reverse layup that gave the Sooners a 21-5 lead at the 13:17 mark of the first half.
UH struggled to a 2-for-11 start from the field until Isaac Fleming drained a 3 from the top to trigger an 18-1 UH run.
Sai Tummala followed Fleming’s 3 with his first after an 0-for-3 start and Bobbitt drained another off a second-chance opportunity to cut Oklahoma’s lead to 26-22 with 7:44 left in the half.
Jankovic scored on a hook while drawing a foul and converted the three-point play. He then gave UH its first lead at 27-26 with a dunk off a baseline drive at the 5:48 mark.
The teams traded the lead five more times with Oklahoma taking a 41-40 edge into halftime when Cousins hit a jumper just before the buzzer.
Oklahoma opened up a seven-point cushion in the second half after Fleming was called for a technical foul after hitting a 3-pointer. Hield made two free throws and Dante Buford drove for a layup to give the Sooners a 65-58 lead with 11:18 left.
Bobbitt scored UH’s next 11 points and fed Jankovic for a breakaway dunk to tie the game at 71-71 at the 6:08 mark.
Oklahoma reclaimed the lead on two Hield free throws with 1:28 left. UH had three shots on its next possession but none fell and Jordan Woodard was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 37.2 seconds left. He made two free throws and dropped in another two 13 seconds later to give the Sooners an 81-76 lead.
Bobbitt hit his third 3-pointer with 13.3 seconds left to cut the deficit to 81-79.
After Hield made two free throws, Bobbitt was fouled on a 3-pointer and made his first two free throws. The third rolled off the rim and Oklahoma’s Lattin came down with the rebound and was fouled with 2.7 seconds left. He made one of two free throws and Bobbitt’s desperation attempt at the buzzer was off line.