Princeton of the Ivy League outplayed Hawaii in the second half of this morning’s fifth-place game in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic as the Tigers prevailed 77-63 at the Stan Sheriff Center.
UH senior co-captain Mike Thomas responded from a quiet first two games of the tournament to score 19 of his 22 points in the first half. It allowed his team to bring a 31-all tie into halftime.
But he and UH (8-4) went quiet in the second half, particularly at the free-throw line, where UH was 9-for-20 for the game, including 7-for-17 after intermission. Princeton (7-7) continued to execute, shooting 54.6 percent from the field (9-for-22 on 3-pointers, 40.9 percent) and converting 16 of its 21 foul shots in front of 1,627 people.
“It’s a tough one today. Credit Princeton, credit them for coming in here and getting a win against us on our home court,” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “Taking over the second half, that was the difference in the game.”
Brocke Stepteau (15 points) scored seven straight to bring UH within 67-59 with 2:09 left. That would be the closest late as the Tigers knocked down their free throws.
Guards Devin Cannady and Sheriff Drammeh were issued offsetting technical fouls late.
Cannady led Princeton with 28 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field and 12-for-16 at the line. He scored 26 of his points after intermission.
Thomas, who scored one point across an opening-round loss to No. 6 Miami and a consolation semifinal win over Davidson, shot 10-for-14 from the field. But he was just 1-for-2 after the break.
“Give them credit. They played well,” Thomas said. “(Cannady) hit some big shots for them down the stretch. We talked about it too, we just came out lackadaisical, with our stance and hands. Different things like that, we just didn’t come to play. Defense, mainly, in the second half.”
UH had a four-game winning streak on Christmas snapped as the Tigers defeated the Rainbows for the second straight year; they got the better of the ’Bows in the Pearl Harbor Invitational last December.
The Rainbows conclude nonconference play at home against Howard on Friday.