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UPDATED: Georgia Tech rambles past Warriors, 70-53, for third place in Classic

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

Ramblin’ down the stretch and turning Hawai’i’s offense into a stagnant wreck, Georgia Tech rallied past the Warriors, 70-53, Wednesday afternoon to claim third place in the 11th Annual Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

A sparse and stunned Stan Sheriff Center crowd of about 2,900 watched the Yellow Jackets (6-6) finish the game with a blistering 23-5 run in the final eight minutes, after Warriors forward Zigmars Raimo picked up his fourth foul just prior to hitting a free throw to give UH a 48-47 lead. Ironically, the dramatic turn of events happened shortly after Georgia Tech starting forward Jordan Usher was ejected at the 9:27 mark, after which the Warriors (8-5) failed to convert a single field goal.

“Just disappointed in the way we finished the game,” said Hawai’i acting head coach Chris Gerlufsen. “I thought we played a good first half and started the second half the right way, we were up nine (38-29) and then the wheels fell off a little bit, and we didn’t respond the right way. But all credit to Georgia Tech, they toughened up when they needed to, and we will learn from it and get better. We still have a ton to play for, and it’s all about how we respond. 

“Not happy with the result at all, but I am proud of the team and the progress they have made to this point. Today, it just wasn’t our day.”

Throughout the first half and early into the second, it looked like a promising Christmas for the Warriors, who led 32-29 after 20 minutes and extended the lead to 38-29 after two free throws by Samuta Avea with 16:11 remaining in the game. But the Yellow Jackets started buzzing at that point, holding UH to two layups in a five-minute stretch and zipping through the Warriors’ defense en route to a 14-4 run capped by Bubba Parham’s layup to take the lead at 43-42.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

Hawaii steadied the ship a bit and took the lead back at 48-47 on a free throw by Raimo with 8:34 left, but by then he had picked up his fourth foul and the Warriors’ aggressiveness appeared to soften on both ends of the floor.

“It did affect me, it was first time playing in foul trouble this season,” said Raimo, who finished with nine points, four rebounds and two steals. “I just have to learn from it … I’m glad that this happened before conference (play), so I can kind of get a feel of what kind of fouls they’re giving to me. Sometimes they call fouls that you don’t want them to call, (and) you don’t think you fouled them.” 

One call that went UH’s way was a “Flagrant 2” foul called on Usher, who got tangled up with Warriors center Dawson Carper while battling for position just outside the lane and ended up flipping Carper to the ground with a judo-like throw. After reviewing the play on a courtside video monitor, the officials declared it a Flagrant 2 foul, resulting in an automatic ejection.

“When Usher went out of the game, I thought that was our chance to capitalize on it, and instead they used it to their advantage and I think that riled them up,” Gerlufsen said. “We almost maybe exhaled when that happened, and they just ramped their energy up and that’s all credit to them — they rallied around each other when they needed to … In moments like that, you have to capitalize, and we didn’t capitalize at points in the game when there were chances to break them. And they broke us at a point where we can’t do that.”  

After making 12 of 26 field goals (46.2 percent) in the first half, UH’s shooting again went south in the second half for the second straight game, hitting only 4 of 18 (22.2 percent). From 3-point range, the Warriors were a dismal 1 for 15 overall, including 0 for 5 in the second half. Eddie Stansberry, whose 17.4 points per game average led the team entering the game, struggled throughout the tournament and finished with yesterday’s game with only six points on 2-for-9 shooting (0 for 5 from 3-point range). Avea, who is second on the team in scoring at 10.9 ppg, finished with six points (2 for 6 overall, 0 for 3 beyond the arc) and five boards. 

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

Point guard Drew Buggs scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds, but was 2 for 8 from the field.

“We’re trying to figure out a way to manufacture some points when our perimeter guys aren’t scoring the ball,” Gerlufsen said. “When Drew, Eddie and Samuta aren’t going, it becomes tough. We probably should have went inside a little bit more, but Georgia Tech had a little bit of a size advantage on us. In the second half, especially, we were looking to manufacture some points and I thought if we got to the free throw line — we were in the bonus with 14 or 15 minutes left — but we didn’t do a good enough job of trying to get to the free throw line.

“Again, this is all a great learning experience for us, and it’s (about) what we do from here.”  

The dismal finish to the game resulted in the Warriors establishing season-lows for points, 3-pointers made (1), 3-point percentage (.067) and assists (5).

“Who we are and what we’re about is defensive intensity,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said via an Associated Press article. “We gotta try to hold teams under 40% from the field and 30% from 3 and we accomplished that feat and that’s why we won the game.”

Michael Devoe led the Yellow Jackets with 18 points, Moses Wright added 16 points and James Banks III finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Georgia Tech shot 56.5 percent (13 of 23) from the field in the second half, and converted 14 of 16 free throws (87.5 percent) in the final 16 minutes.

Raimo and Buggs each scored nine points to lead Hawai’i, which shot 36.4 percent (16 of 44) overall.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

The Warriors have one nonconference game remaining — at home against Maine on Sunday (5:05 p.m. tipoff) — before starting Big West play on the road at Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 9.

“We will get back to the drawing board on the 27th, and get ready for Maine on the 29th,” Gerlufsen said. “I have no doubt that our team will respond in the right way.”

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

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Houston 75, No. 21 Washington 71

Fabian White Jr. and Caleb Mills scored 19 points each to lead Houston to an upset victory over No. 21 Washington in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic.

The Cougars rallied from a 36-31 deficit at halftime, then took the lead for good with 5:07 remaining. Justin Gorham scored five points during a 7-0 surge that gave Houston a 66-60 lead. Quentin Grimes then went 6 for 6 on free throws in the final 22 seconds to secure the championship win.

Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic
Wednesday’s Results
7th Place: Ball State 61, Portland 46
5th Place: Boise State 72, UTEP 67
3rd Place: Georgia Tech 70, Hawai’i 53
Championship: Houston 75, Washington 71

All-Tournament Team
Moses Wright (Georgia Tech)
Derrick Alston (Boise State)
Quentin Grimes (Houston)
Isaiah Steward (Washington)
Most Outstanding Player – Fabian White Jr. (Houston)

2020 Diamond Head Classic Teams
Arizona State
Hawai’i
Oklahoma
Saint Mary’s
San Diego State
Seattle
Temple
Western Michigan

5 Comments

  1. Glad to see Hemsley in the video, including the post game interview.

  2. This game was so frustrating to watch at the end. What the coach said was so true that the wheels fell off. Two things that UH needs to work on badly is breaking the full court press and defensing against the big men on the other teams.

  3. Will the real Eddie Stansberry please stand up? We need him back and badly. I couldn’t watch the last few minutes of the game. I don’t understand how getting a player from the other team ejected from a game resulted in us losing all focus and momentum. Very forgettable game, Sunday couldn’t come sooner!

  4. Bows looked tired or just not into it last few minutes. Totally
    Fell apart. Hopefully that’s the last of that. Definitely a lot of
    Things to clean up. Zone defense really screws with their offense.

    Shots didn’t fall for Eddie but I feel he should drive to the basket
    More. Good to see other people stepping up a lil. Webster and Hemsley

  5. Wonder IF EDDIE Also had Family Visiting so he “Couldn’t “ Put in EXTRA Time in the Gym like the during the Two-Day Break…

    300, 600, a Thousand shots…whatever it takes to get your jump, timing and Stroke back…

    I’ve heard coaches lament that The Family Distractions can make this the hardest time of year (although Tough-Riley did Not seem to suffer (allow) THAT Problem….

    PUSH THROUGH, Battle Back, Raise Yourself UP, Maté !

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