Samuta Avea scored 19 points and tournament hosts Hawaii reached their first Diamond Head Classic finals with a 62-51 win over the Cougars.
HONOLULU (AP) — Samuta Avea scored 19 points and tournament hosts Hawaii advanced to the finals of the Diamond Head Classic for the first time Friday night with a 62-51 win over Washington State.
Hawaii, which has hosted the event 11 times since 2009, will face SMU in Sunday’s championship game. The Classic was not played in 2019 due to COVID-19 and COVID also forced the cancellation of last year’s finals between Stanford and Vanderbilt.
Avea made 8 of 14 shots with two 3-pointers for the Rainbow Warriors (8-3). Jovon McClanahan finished the game with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting and added six rebounds and four assists. Noel Coleman scored 13.
TJ Bamba led the Cougars (5-7) with 19 points in 6-of-18 shooting.
McClanahan scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting to lead Hawaii to a 24-23 lead at halftime.
Bamba made a layup to level the score at 35, but Avea had the first and final basket in an 8-0 run and Hawaii snapped a 43-35 lead with 9-20 remaining.
Dylan Darling’s layup ended a 4:38 goalless span for the Cougars and Bamba’s layup cut their deficit to six at 6:45. Avea hit a 3-pointer, Coleman had a three-point play and Hawaii took their first double-digit lead – 51-40 – with 3:55 to go.
WSU, who averages a 9.2 Pac-12 best from 3-point range, only made 3-of-13 against the Rainbow Warriors. The Cougars finished the game with two assists in 18 baskets. They shot a total of 30.5%.
The two schools played each other for the first time since 1991. WSU leads the series with 5:2.
Washington State plays Utah State in the consolation finals on Sunday.
https://www.king5.com/article/sports/ncaa/ncaaf/cougars/hawaii-tops-wsu-advances-to-1st-diamond-head-classic-final/281-0c4b69a3-0ee1-47ac-a235-9318efcf05b5 Hawaii tops WSU, advances to 1st Diamond Head Classic final