What a game

Wow. What else can you say after that one?

Hawaii looked like it might pull a repeat of Thursday night’s heartbreaker against Auburn — trailing all the way, and nearly coming back at the finish only to fall short. But this time the Rainbow Warriors had enough juice to rally from 15 points down and finish the job against No. 14 Xavier, resulting in an 84-82 stunner in overtime.

Joston Thomas had the game-winning basket off a baseline take to cap off his superb night (career-high 24 points, 8-for-11 shooting, nine rebounds). And give credit to Zane Johnson, who stuck with it through a slow shooting start (2-for-9 at one point) to finish with 14 and five assists, including the game-winning dish to Thomas.

Vander Joaquim gathered himself after picking up an early taunting technical to finish with a season-high 20 points.

All of that was great, but Hauns Brereton’s amazing double-clutch shot to tie it at 77 with 2 seconds left in regulation will probably be what everyone will remember most. I know I won’t be forgetting that anytime soon. The fact that it was Brereton who hit that, given his immense struggles from long range this season, made it even sweeter for UH.

I didn’t mention this in my story for Saturday’s newspaper, but Gib Arnold’s decision to put Joaquim on the Xavier inbounds man after Brereton’s shot may have been very important. Xavier had 2 seconds left in regulation to score a winner, but the inbounds man turned over the ball moving on the baseline first, likely thanks in part to Joaquim’s pressure. (As you might recall, UH did not cover the inbounder on the play that produced Auburn’s game-winning dunk in transition the night before). UH had a chance to do something under Xavier’s basket with 2 seconds left, but Thomas had the ball slapped away before he got a shot off.

Guards Miah Ostrowski, Garrett Jefferson and Bobby Miles also had key plays in guarding Xavier stars Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons. You might say that UH got some help from the refs — I know I did, especially in the first half when the free-throw disparity was 16-0 for the ‘Bows — but in the end it evened itself out, and both teams were bad from the stripe, missing 12 apiece.

Lastly, credit yourselves, those of you who were there, for making it a great game atmosphere. The crowd might have been larger the night before for Auburn (about 7,000 compared to about 5,500) but it was just as ferocious down the stretch when UH chipped away into Xavier’s lead. Guaranteed it made Travis Taylor uncomfortable at the line in OT when he missed one of two, keeping it tied at 82 and setting up Thomas’s winner.

UH actually ended up tying the Diamond Head record for points with 84. It was the second overtime game of the day after none had happened previously in the three-year history of the event.


  1. bigislandkurt December 24, 2011 6:34 am

    Vander Joachim was my player of the night.


  2. al December 24, 2011 8:29 am

    i was thinking that perhaps this will be hauns’ breakout night. he had been tentative in the first third of the season and this could be start of what we all thought or hoped that he would bring to the team.

    we obviously need another shooter to improve our play.

    miah is still rusty and once he takes a more offensive attitude we will start to gel and could wreak havoc for opponents.

    i like the depth of bench.

  3. bb December 24, 2011 9:17 am

    What is Shaq’s state of mind. I watched the replay and noticed that when Joston made the last shot all of the bench for the most part was fist pumping and jumping up and down (as expected).

    While all of this was happening Shaq was still in his seat. When the game was over and Gib had the players shake hands and walk towards mid court, Shaq was slowly walking looking disengaged. As the rest of the team continued to celebrate by waving to the crowd and giving hi-fives, hand shakes and hugs, Shaq was the first player to walk towards the locker room.

    I would hope someone like Joston who has been in the house, the dog house, and last night raised the roof, should know….play as a team. Win as a team. Know your role. Your time will come.

  4. Chicken Grease December 24, 2011 9:24 am

    Ha ha! Last night was revenge for 2002 and a convincing win at that! Can see the guys’ growth Thursday night and last night! Thanks for this early Christmas present Gib and mens b-ball Warriors!

  5. jkjones December 24, 2011 11:16 am

    Gib Arnold has a good handle on his players. Who’s hot, who is not. Coach made the right decision by bringing in Miah. He ignited our offense with his passing and played stellar D, swiping a few and making their point work hard on the perimeter. Our team has a lot of moving parts with different roles. Jostin Thomas was super. What else can you say?
    Great victory!

  6. Capitolist/WassupDoc December 24, 2011 11:17 am

    Even though I was physically present in The Stan last night, practically everyone in the seats below us were standing up (I’m 5’2″) which meant I wound up having to look at the last several minutes of the game on the overhead screen. However, I did a lot of shouting and waving an H-sign and a Big Green Hand. Wonder what it sounded like standing outside the building?

  7. jjay December 24, 2011 11:55 am

    It’s a long season , many games to play Shaq, 30 plus games,nothing like high school, dont worry, you’re still a freshman, lots of playing time to come this season , just be ready, Miah is a senior , just a short time left for him, take in what you can from Miah. He’s your teammate and friend. You guys are Ohana.

  8. Isaac McMillan December 24, 2011 3:26 pm

    Shaq still plays like a true freshman. After a couple bad turnovers at the start, Gib yanked him. Same for Brereton, but he was able to redeem himself after getting another chance. I hope Shaq knows his time will come. He will be vital to Hawaii’s success in the very near future, and we need him to be at his best.

    Overall, awesome game. Can’t wait to watch us take on Clemson tomorrow.

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