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UPDATED: No. 21 Washington holds off Warriors, 72-61, in Classic semifinal

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

With arms spreading out so far and wide, No. 21 Washington suffocated Hawai’i, 72-61, Monday night in the semifinals of the 11th Annual Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

A loud and rowdy crowd of 4,419 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched freshman sensation Isaiah Stewart score a game-high 26 points grab 13 rebounds and Quade Green add 11 points as the Huskies improved to 10-2 and advanced to Wednesday’s 3:30 p.m. championship game against Houston. Justin Webster finished with a career-high 16 points and Zigmars Raimo added 15 points and 15 boards to lead UH, which fell to 8-4 and into the third place game against Georgia Tech at 1:30 p.m. Christmas Day. That game will be televised on national TV via ESPN2.

“(Washington) is one of the more lengthy and athletic teams you’ll see in the country, and they disrupted us for sure,” Warriors coach Chris Gerlufsen said. “All credit to them.”

Horizontally challenged against the Huskies’ extended and aggressive 2-3 zone, Hawai’i struggled mightily from the field, making only 7 of 31 attempts (22.6 percent) in the first half, including only 1 of 14 shots (7.1 percent) from 3-point range. For the game, the Warriors were a dismal 21 for 74 (season-low 28.4 percent), including 9 for 39 (23 percent) from beyond the arc.

Meanwhile, Stewart — an athletic 6-foot-9, 250-pound freshman with a superhero-type body — was virtually unstoppable near the basket against UH’s three-post rotation of 7-footers Dawson Carper and Mate Colina and 6-9 Bernardo Da Silva. Stewart had 16 points (on 8-of-12 shooting) and five rebounds by halftime as UW built a commanding 37-22 lead.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores

“We talk a lot about ‘doing your work early’ (on post defense) and not letting guys catch the ball where they want to catch it, (but) it is a lot easier said than done with a guy who is as big and strong as he is,” Gerlufsen said. “They do a really good job of looking for him, (and) they have guys who can stretch the floor from 3(-point range), so you gotta kind of pick your poison where you’re going to help from … but he’s a future NBA player, he’s going to make a lot of money, so all credit to them.”

The game actually started out as a physical defensive struggle on both sides, with baskets coming few and far between. Jaden McDaniels scored on a rare coast-to-coast layup to put the Huskies ahead, 8-4, nine minutes into the game, but the Warriors hung tough and closed it to 14-13 when Raimo muscled in a layup through traffic off of Drew Buggs’ assist. Raimo was actually fouled on the play, but failed to convert the ensuing free throw and Jamal Bey answered with a 3-pointer from the left corner to ignite a 15-4 run capped by Sam Timmins’ layup which gave Washington a 29-17 lead with 3:18 remaining in the half.

Justin Webster finally drained a 3-pointer — Hawai’i’s first of the game — to close it to 29-20 with 2:25 left, but Stewart later put on a one-man show by blocking consecutive shots in the lane and then streaking down the court and finishing with a monster slam dunk to help the Huskies close out the half with an 8-2 run to lead 37-22 at the break.

Nahziah Carter put the exclamation point on the half by swishing a 3-pointer over Buggs at the buzzer.

“Their zone is really athletic, they have a very lengthy zone, it’s a little hard to prepare for in such a quick turnaround and it affected us,” Buggs said. “We just didn’t play the way we’re capable of playing, we knew we could come out better. We had a little lapse in the first half, and that’s what happens when you play a Top 25 team — you can’t have those lapses like that if you want to stay in the game. We just got a little sloppy, a little careless and we let our offense affect our defense, we gave them a couple of run-outs and then they hit that 3 at the end.”

The Warriors fought back in the second half, slowly chipping away at the deficit until closing it to 51-45 after Raimo’s fast-break layup off Buggs’ assist with 5:10 remaining, but UH’s offense stalled again and UW capitalized with a 12-2 run that made it 63-47 with just over a minute left.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

Webster hit two 3-pointers and Savea one to help the Warriors close it to 68-61 with 23.6 ticks on the clock, but that was as close as they would get.

“We knew that our backs were against the wall, and we had to come out and fight if we wanted to still be part of the game in the second half,” Buggs said. “We didn’t want them to blow it open, so we made a conscious effort to get out there and get some stops and get some good shots to get us going.

“But a 15-point deficit is hard to overcome against a Top-25 team.”

Eddie Stansberry, who entered the game as Hawai’i’s leading scorer at 18.5 points per game, misfired badly for the second straight night and finished with only five points on one made 3-pointer and two free throws. He was 1 for 17, all attempts from beyond the arc.

“He’s our brother, we’re not looking at his numbers at all,” Raimo said. “He’s a great shooter, you’ve seen how well he can shoot. Some nights he’s off, but all we can do is tell him to keep shooting — we have so much confidence in him.”

Stansberry’s 17 3-point attempts is a single-game record for both UH and the Diamond Head Classic. The Warriors’ 39 3-point attempts is also a new single-game record for both UH and the Diamond Head Classic.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

Buggs said despite the loss, the Warriors are already looking forward to another challenge against Georgia Tech on Wednesday.

“We’re ready for the chance to play another high major (team) and compete, and try to learn from today,” Buggs said. “We know they’re a really good team, but we’re going to be ready.”

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

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Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic
Monday’s Results
Boise State 85, Portland 69
Houston 70, Georgia Tech 59
Washington 72, Hawai’i 61
UTEP 71, Ball Sate 70

Wednesday’s Games
8:30 a.m. – Portland vs. Ball State
10:30 a.m. – Boise State vs. UTEP
1:30 p.m. – Hawai’i vs. Georgia Tech
3:30 p.m. – Houston vs. Washington

HAWAI’I (8-4, 0-0 Big West) vs. GEORGIA TECH (5-6, 1-1 ACC)
When:
 Wednesday, December 25, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: ESPN2
Streaming video: WatchESPN.com / ESPN App
Radio:  Live on ESPN Honolulu (1420 AM/92.7 FM), KRKH (Maui), KPUA (Hawai’i Island), and KTOH (Kaua’i).
Audio Webcast:ESPN1420am.com/Sideline Hawai’i App.
Live Stats:StatBroadcast.com
Ticket Information: Lower level – $30 for all available seats. Upper level – $18 for adults, $10 for senior citizens (65-older) and students (ages 4 through high school). Parking is $7.

1 Comment

  1. Overall I felt we had a pretty good chance of winning. Definitely
    Gonna have to work against zone defense in practice cause that
    Really through them off on offense. Really messed with our shooting.

    Wednesday should be a good game against Georgia Tech. Hopefully they don’t
    Do zone defense lol

    Go Bows!! Happy holidays to everybody and especially warrior insider for doing such a great service! Mahalo!

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