Samuta Avea scored 19 points to lead Hawaii to a 62-51 victory over Washington State in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic on Friday in Honolulu.
The Rainbow Warriors (8-3) advanced to the event’s title game for the first time in school history. On Sunday they will face SMU (5-7), which beat Utah State 77-74 in the other semifinal. The Cougars (5-7) will face the Aggies (10-2) in the third-place game earlier that day.
JoVon McClanahan added 16 points, six rebounds and four assists while Noel Coleman finished with 13 points and four rebounds for the Rainbow Warriors, who have participated in all 13 Diamond Head Classics.
Avea shot 8 of 14 from the field to go along with four rebounds. McClanahan hit 6 of 7 from the floor. Coleman shot just 5 of 13 from the field, including missing all three of his 3-point attempts.
The Rainbow Warriors, who have won three straight games, shot 23 of 47 (48.9 percent) from the field, including just 3 of 11 (27.3 percent) from 3-point range. Hawaii outrebounded the Cougars 35-32.
Washington State, which has dropped three of its past four games, was led by TJ Bamba, who had 19 points and four rebounds. Mouhamed Gueye added seven points and seven rebounds, while Kymany Houinsou chipped in six points and four rebounds.
The Cougars shot 18 of 59 (30.5 percent) from the field, including just 3 of 13 (23.1 percent) from beyond the arc.
After Bamba’s layup tied the game at 35 with 12:10 remaining, the Rainbow Warriors went on a decisive, 8-0 run, capped by Avea’s jumper with 9:20 to go.
The Cougars never recovered, as the Rainbow Warriors extended their advantage to 55-40 on McClanahan’s two free throws with 2:29 remaining.
After Washington State took an 18-10 lead on Adrame Diongue’s three-point play with 9:01 left in the half, the Cougars missed 13 of their final 14 first-half shots. The Rainbow Warriors countered with a 14-5 run to take a 24-23 edge into halftime.
–Field Level Media