HONOLULU (AP) — Down to its last shot to avoid an upset, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall drew up the same play he used in the Shockers’ other overtime game this year.
Thanks to Rashard Kelly, this time it worked.
Kelly battled for a tough rebound and put back a short bank shot with 3.8 seconds remaining Tuesday night to give No. 11 Wichita State a 80-79 overtime win over Hawaii and reach the final of the Diamond Head Classic.
Fred VanVleet brought the ball down the court on the final possession and put up a 3-pointer that caromed off to the left.
“If we don’t make the initial shot, we need at least four (players) on the glass,” Marshall said. “Fred’s shot was good. Rashard Kelly exploded up and grabbed the ball — this time on the left side — and stuck it back in.”
It reminded Marshall of another one-possession game against Utah in overtime, only Darius Carter missed the shot and the Shockers (10-1) suffered their only loss of the year.
Kelly finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
“Fred had a great look at the end,” Kelly said. “You just can’t stop playing basketball until you hear a whistle or you hear the buzzer. It was either do or die at that point. I mean, I just had to go get it. That last possession I gave it all I could.”
The Shockers were fortunate to get by the Warriors (8-4), who had a shot to win at the end of regulation and had a 77-74 lead with just under a minute to go in overtime. Hawaii was on the cusp of beating a ranked team for the first time in three years.
“The 11th-ranked team in the country. We were right there,” Hawaii coach Benjy Taylor said.
Kelly was mobbed by the Shockers after a game that featured 22 lead changes, five of them in overtime. But it wasn’t pretty. Wichita State shot only 40 percent from the field and its best two shooters, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton, combined to go 3-of-16 from the 3-point line.
Baker led the Shockers with 17 points in his second poor shooting night of the tournament, though he came up with a key block of Negus Webster-Chan at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. He also hit two free throws to tie the game at 70 after regulation.
Aaron Valdes and reserve Isaac Fleming led the Warriors with 17 points apiece.
Valdes hit a 3-pointer with 15:43 to give Hawaii a 47-41 lead with loads of momentum, and the home crowd, in its favor. But the Warriors went five minutes without scoring another field goal and had three straight turnovers as Wichita State went on a 15-2 run and appeared to have control of the game.
Fleming and Valdes each hit 3-pointers as Hawaii battled back, and Valdes added another 3 with 48 seconds left for a 70-68 lead.
After Baker tied the game with his free throws, and then scored on a tough inside shot to start overtime, Hawaii charged back again and led 77-74 with just under a minute to go. Stefan Jankovic, who had 12 points for the Warriors, fouled out with 54 seconds remaining. Carter made one of two free throws, and then Hawaii threw the ball away on the inbounds pass and VanVleet drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Wichita State a 78-77 lead.
The Warriors answered with Mike Thomas being left alone under the basket on an inbounds pass for its last lead of the game.
VanVleet missed badly on a 3, and Kelly grabbed the rebound for the game-winner. Thomas missed an off-balance shot at the buzzer for Hawaii, which was trying to reach the championship game of its holiday tournament for the first time.
VanVleet had 13 points and five assists.
“This one is going to sting,” Taylor said.
Baker, the leading scorer for the Shockers, is 9-of-29 in his two games this week. He is 4-of 16 on 3-pointers.
“We’ve got to shoot the ball better,” Marshall said. “Fred made the huge one at the end, and then Cotton is 1-for-5 and Baker is 2-for-11. That’s not going to get it done. The shots were good shots. Those are shots they’ve been making their whole career.”
The Shockers had to do without Darius Carter, their force inside, for much of the second half after he picked up his fourth foul. He finally came back in with four minutes remaining and was guarded by Jankovic, who also had four fouls. Jankovic fouled out trying to block Carter’s shot with 54 seconds left.
Wichita State plays George Washington on Thursday in the championship game.
Hawaii plays Colorado in a consolation game on Thursday.
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