Georgia Tech went on two huge second-half runs to seize third place from host Hawaii, 70-53, in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic basketball tournament Christmas Day at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Yellow Jackets of the Atlantic Coast Conference (6-6) erased a nine-point deficit with a 16-4 run and when the Rainbow Warriors (8-5) briefly reclaimed the lead, they put the game away with a 21-2 run with a combination of shifty guards and interior power.
A Christmas afternoon crowd of about 2,500 was on hand to see UH finish the eight-team tournament with a 1-2 record for fourth place. UH struggled both on the interior — it was outscored 40-20 in the paint— and the exterior — shooting 1-for-15 on 3s.
Hawaii was led by point guard Drew Buggs and forward Zigmars Raimo, who each scored nine.
The Yellow Jackets applied fullcourt pressure and defended in the halfcourt with both man-to-man and 1-3-1 zone defenses.
The Warriors took a seven-point lead, fell behind, then closed the first half with a 7-0 run to lead 32-29 at halftime.
UH received a boost in the first half from reserve wing Justin Hemsley, who scored all of his eight points in the period.
The Warriors pushed the lead to nine in the first four minutes of the second half.
Tech pushed back. They got to within 40-36 on a jam by James Banks. A 3-pointer by Michael Devoe (game-high 18 points) cut it to 42-41 and they went up on a transition layup after a block on Bernardo da Silva.
UH countered with a spurt that saw Tech forward Jordan Usher get tagged with a flagrant-2 foul on UH center Dawson Carper. Usher was ejected and UH took a 47-45 lead.
Moses Wright (16 points) made a layup to reclaim the lead and Tech stole the ball on the inbounds pass. Devoe added two free throws and Jose Alvarado two more the next trip down for a 53-48 Tech advantage with 7:30 left. Banks’ putback dunk made it a 6-0 run.
Banks flushed it two-handed on a feed from Alvarado for a 59-50 lead with 4:36 remaining. Wright hammered down another two-hander on an exchange of turnovers near midcourt.
UH point guard Buggs was tagged with a flagrant-1 foul and the Jackets got three points out of the possession as they won going away.