Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Updated: Warriors stun No. 14 Xavier in overtime, 84-82

Joston Thomas scored a career-high 24 points — including the game-winning layup with 0.8 seconds remaining in overtime — Friday night as Hawai’i shocked No. 14-ranked Xavier, 84-82, in pulsating Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic action.

A raucous crowd of 6,836 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Warriors improve to 6-5 with their first victory over a ranked team since beating fourth-ranked Michigan State in 2005. They advance to Sunday’s 11:30 a.m. fifth-place game against Clemson (7-5).

“I can’t say enough about our guys,” said UH coach Gib Arnold. “It’s a great night for Rainbow basketball.”

Xavier’s Travis Taylor had tied the game at 82-82 by making the second of two free throws with 12.4 seconds left. After a kicking violation with six ticks remaining, Hawai’i got the ball to Zane Johnson, who penetrated the lane and dished to Thomas on the right side near the basket. Thomas’ lay-in circled around the rim before falling in.

The Musketeers’ Tu Holloway then heaved a three-quarter court shot at the horn, but it was well short.

“Zane came off (a screen) and drew attention, then he dumped it into me,” said Thomas, a 6-foot-7 junior forward. “Our team puts a lot of faith in each other, and I was glad I was able to come through. It was a good team win, we just have to keep it going from here.”

The Warriors had trailed 12-0 out of the gates and was behind for all but two seconds of regulation, when reserve forward Hauns Brereton drained a double-pump, 22-foot 3-point basket from the top of the key to make it 77-77. Brereton had to alter his shot after a defender jumped to block it.

“Whatever gets the job done,” said Brereton, a 6-6 junior. “Coach put me in (just before the last sequence) to have another option, and Miah set me up (with the assist).”

Xavier was still without freshman starter Dezmine Wells, a 6-5 swingman who is the team’s third-leading scorer at 9.5 points per game, from suspension after a brawl against Cincinnati on Dec. 10. But the Musketeers did feature their heralded backcourt of point guard Tu Holloway and shooting guard Mark Lyons, who lived up to their billing.

Arnold’s modified starting lineup included defensive specialists Garrett Jefferson and Bobby Miles, who were instructed to “lock down” on Holloway and Lyons in a triangle-and-2 scheme.

“Our game plan was to let someone besides them beat us,” Arnold said.

Freshman forward Justin Martin accepted that challenge, scoring the game’s first eight points on a short jumper and two 3-pointers. A layup by Lyons and Kenny Frease’s turnaround jumper made it 12-0 less than three minutes into the game.

UH finally broke through with Thomas’ two free throws at the 16:01 mark and eventually closed it to 22-16 on his three-point play midway through the first half, but the Musketeers responded with an 11-3 run capped by Holloway’s 3-pointer to make it 33-19 with 7:20 left. Another three-point play by Thomas got the Warriors as close as 38-30 with 3:13 remaining, but Xavier ended up leading 45-34 at the break.

Hawai’i was 0-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half and sank just 8 of 16 free throws in the first 20 minutes, but Thomas kept them in the game by tying his career high with 18 points by halftime.

“I’m the same person as before, but tonight they gave me open looks and I took them,” said Thomas, who entered the night averaging 9.2 ppg.

UH opened the second half with Miah Ostrowski’s steal and layup to cut it to 45-36, but the Musketeers responded with a 9-3 run to push the lead to 54-39 on Taylor’s putback with 17:21 left. It was 61-46 after a layup by Lyons with 13:53 showing, but the Warriors crept back into it and eventually closed to 70-69 on a layup by Johnson off Ostrowski’s nifty assist with 4:49 remaining. Frease, a husky 7-foot center, and Lyons each had picked up their fourth fouls at around the nine-minute mark and went to the bench.

Xavier went up, 75-71, when Holloway swished a 3 with 3:22 left, but Johnson answered with his own 3-pointer 12 seconds later to make it 75-74. It stayed that way until 20 seconds remaining, when Holloway hit a mid-range jumper that bounced up off the rim and dropped through for a 77-74 lead. After Johnson misfired from beyond the arc at the other end, Frease grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 11.3 ticks on the clock but he missed both free throw attempts.

That set up Brereton’s unlikely game-tying 3-pointer with two seconds left.

“I wish I could say I diagramed that play, but it was supposed to go the other way,” Arnold said. “But Hauns is a shot-maker, he hits those in practice all the time although he’s struggled a bit in games. He hit some big shots tonight.”

Andre Walker stepped across the baseline on the ensuing inbounds pass, giving Hawai’i possession. But the Warriors lost their inbounds pass with 0.1 ticks showing, and the Musketeers settled for overtime.

Vander Joaquim slammed home a dunk 31 seconds into the extra period to put UH up, 79-77, but Lyons answered at the other end with a sweet drive and finger roll. Frease fouled out at the 2:54 mark, and Ostrowski sank the second of two free throws to give Hawai’i an 80-79 edge. Trevor Wiseman then broke loose for a running slam dunk at 1:59 to make it 82-79, but Holloway closed it to 82-81 with two foul shots 51 seconds later.

After the Warriors turned it over with 41 seconds left, Taylor’s free throw tied it 29 seconds later, setting up Thomas’ dramatic finish.

“That’s a play where Zane takes the ball and we run a cross screen with Joston,” Arnold said. “Zane is supposed to run off him and do a ‘dribble-drag’ into the lane where he takes the shot, but the bigs came over and Joston got open. Zane was smart enough to see that, and Joston made a tough shot.”

Holloway, a dazzling 6-foot senior who was an Associated Press third-team All-American last season, finished with a game-high 26 points to go with six assists. Lyons added 18 points and Frease contributed 13 points and seven rebounds.

Holloway had 16 points at halftime but was held to 10 in the final 25 minutes.

“(Holloway and Lyons) got their points, but they had to earn it,” Arnold said. “They had somebody literally in their face all night, and I think when that happens, it wears you down.”

Joaquim finished with 20 points and seven rebounds. Johnson added 14 points, five assists and four rebounds, and also established a new UH record by converting his 28th and 29th consecutive free throws — a streak that covers seven games.

Brereton contributed with 13 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench. Ostrowski also came off the bench and scored five points with a game-high seven assists and five steals.

“We’re still trying to figure out who we are, but I’m seeing it in bits and pieces,” Arnold said. “Zane and Hauns hit big shots, Vander was a beast down low, Garrett and Bobby and Trevor gave us defense, Miah did his thing with the passing … This was our best team win, and I can say that easily. Everybody did their part, and if we can do that, we’ll be pretty good. This team has a high ceiling.”

Thomas, who added nine rebounds to go with his 24 points off the bench, said the Warriors are willing to aim higher.

“This win is big, but we’ve got bigger ones to take,” Thomas said. “We’ve got to go back again (Sunday) and be ready to play.”

(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores)

Friday’s results

Kansas State 78, UTEP 70
Long Beach State 64, Auburn 43
Hawaii 84, Xavier 82 (OT)
Clemson 83, Southern Illinois 75 (OT)

Sunday’s schedule
9 a.m. — Xavier vs. Southern Illinois for seventh place
11:30 a.m. — Hawaii vs. Clemson for fifth place
2:30 p.m. — UTEP vs. Auburn for third place
4:30 p.m. — Kansas State vs. Long Beach State for championship


  1. Amazing, thrilling, gutsy win. Nice to see Hauns and Joston play such a huge role in the heroics. Kudos to all!

  2. A big win! The team showed lots of energy last night. ‘Way to go guys!
    Go Warriors!

  3. love that they drew up that last play during the timeout. use zane as the decoy (but shoot it if it was there) and draw the defense and dish to the hot handed joston!

  4. Great win Warriors! Awesome game Joston, Vander and Hauns. Clutch shot to take it to OT even though acording to Gib it was Zanes shot. and another clutch shot Joston for the win. Keep scrapping and getting better season looks better already! great job.

  5. Great win, hopefully this sets the tone for Joston, Hauns, and Vander … and the whole team for that matter. Having multiple threats to score and taking some of the focus off of Zane will make a big difference in how other teams play us. Let’s keep it going with a win over Clemson …

  6. Looking forward to the game on Sunday! Keep the energy up!

  7. So proud of Hauns. Hope that shot gives him confidence to play like that the rest of the way.

  8. Holloway and Lyons might be the best tandem guards in college but we have a 4 guard combo that have the potential to be the best in the country: Stokes all around play, Ostrowski finding the open guy, Miles game tempo, and Jefferson defense. Speaking of defense Hawaii, as in past games, won it on defense as I feel that Xavier lost some energy in the second half due to Hawaii’s intensity. When everyone contributes and brings the hammer good things happen. Towards the end our offense still had spring in their legs due to the 10 man rotation, especially Ostrowski since he did not play a lot in the Auburn game. It showed with his defense and steals at the end of the game. All the hard work during the game shows up in the end. Hope coach continues using all 10 and, at times, using platoon system. And if we can continue to improve on turnovers, free throw shooting,and inside out game, we have a lot more potential than the Xavier game. Merry Christmas Hawaii.

  9. Thanks for the video highlights and great pics to remember this game!

  10. Better substitution by Gib in second half by putting in the guys who can shoot, Zane, Hauns, Miah at point, Josten, and Vander. Wiseman to come in later for defense. Wiseman gotta work on his inside the key shooting, needs to a offensive threat so Zane not double teamed all the time.

  11. Nice job of editing video and comments, Dayton. Great win; hope the team can build from it. I can sense a growing maturity from Joston. Maybe the light has gone on, and he can see how valuable he is to this team IF he plays within himself and uses his God-given talent and hustle to be a major contributor. His on-court body language and post-game comments are very much team-oriented, and I commend him for that. In that regard, he is not the same player/person I saw in the summer league. I’ve always thought highly of Hauns from the time he signed his letter. I think his early struggles can be traced to his feeling responsible to fill the “other scorer’s” role opposite Zane; I may be wrong, but I don’t think he’ll ever be the same class of catch-and-shoot guy like Zane, but he can be a solid scoring threat from mid-range and working the offensive glass. And how can you not like his attitude? As Gib said, it was the best “team’ win of the season. Hope there are many more to come.

  12. Good job, Wes! Great coverage!

  13. Great team win! Many great contributions all around. We got another big game against a big conference school in Clemson today, before a trap-game against South Carolina State on Thursday (They will have played Baylor, Pitt & Oklahoma before coming to Hawaii) and a HUGE game against the #21 team in the nation (ranking will be higher by Saturday), the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, on Saturday (Beat North Carolina, Nevada & Illinois). Hope they use this win to propel themselves into bigger things. Continue to grow and mature.

    A bit disheartening to see Shaq Stokes not get overly excited with the rest of the team once the win was official. I know he’s a competitor and wanted to be more involved but Gib had to stick with Miah & Jefferson. They had a ton of energy, great defense by both those guys. Shaq will get plenty of opportunities and I hope he can stick it through and continue to work hard. We are going to need him through the season, he will have plenty of time to shine. Keep ya head up, Shaq. Also, great grit and maturity from Joston! A different person and player in contrast to last season. Vander, Zane and Hauns all had great games. Love that Zane was chirping back at Xavier players, showing that he’s not going to be pushed around by them. It’s taken some time (10 games) but big strides are coming. Work on your free throws, team. And let’s dominate in conference play.

  14. Best two games we played so far and still got room for improvement (free throws, late game situational awareness). Hitting our stride just in time for conference play instead of peaking early like last year. Keep working hard and good things will come. Everybody play your role and the sky is the limit!!!!

  15. I am energized with this team. You can see the potential. If there are 2 things that will help this team to get better, it’s team free throw shooting and keeping turnovers down to a minimum. If so, the Rainbow Warriors can dominate games. Good to see so many people contributing. At some point, Rozitis will play a bigger role.

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