The Hawaii basketball team’s second-half rally fell just short in an 81-75 loss to South Dakota on the second day of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic tonight.
Senior guard Eddie Stansberry scored all of his 21 points after halftime, helping bring the Rainbow Warriors (1-1) back from 11 points down to as close as two points late. But the Coyotes (2-0) of the Summit League converted 21 of their 24 free throws in the period to close it out and effectively claim the Rainbow title with one day still to play Monday.
A Sunday night crowd of 3,117 saw the Rainbows shoot 60 percent in the second half, but acting head coach Chris Gerlufsen took the first loss of his head-coaching career while filling in for the ailing Eran Ganot.
Forward Samuta Avea fouled out with 14 points and point guard Drew Buggs, who missed a layup driving through contact on UH’s final possession, finished with 12 points and five assists.
Backup forward Justin Hemsley came off the bench and momentarily and sparked his team with a steal of an inbounds pass for a dunk, a charge taken, and a corner 3-pointer for a 16-15 lead.
But South Dakota outscored UH 20-11 for the rest of the half, with guards Stanley Umude and Triston Simpson scoring 10 apiece in the period.
UH went on a 6-0 run to open the second half to get within 35-33, ended by a Simpson layup.
Stansberry heated to keep UH around. Buggs’ reverse layup made it 65-58 with under six minutes left.
Stansberry found Zigmars Raimo underneath to get within 71-66 with 2:36 left. Stansberry hit a pair at the foul line to make it a three-point game with 1:44 left.
Raimo drove to the hoop after faking a handoff to make it a two-point game with a minute left, but Raimo fouled out at the other end with 51.9 seconds left. Hunter Goodrick sank one to make it 73-70.
Buggs was blocked underneath the basket and Avea took a foul in the open court. Triston Simpson (game-high 22 points) made both foul shots, but Stansberry sank a tough 3 off the dribble to make it 75-73 with 30 seconds left. Avea then was disqualified taking a foul with 18.3 seconds left.
Cody Kelley made both, answered by a Buggs layup with 11.9 remaining.
UH sent Kelley back to the line with 9.9 to go and he made both. Buggs missed a layup through some contact and the Coyotes put it away with two more from Goodrick with 0.4 seconds left.