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UH defeated SMU, Washington State and Pepperdine en route to its first Diamond Head Classic title since the tournament began in 2009.

JoVon McClanahan drained a game-winning three-pointer with less than one second remaining to lift the University of Hawaiʻi men’s basketball team to a 58-57 Christmas Day win and its first-ever Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic title. The junior guard’s performance in the holiday tournament earned McClanahan his first career Big West Player of the Week honor and the first for a Rainbow Warrior this season.

McClanahan’s last-second shot gave the Rainbow Warriors (9-3) their only lead of the second half, as they came back from behind by as many as 12 points for the thrilling victory. After the SMU Mustangs missed back-to-back front ends of 1-and-1 free throw opportunities, McClanahan took the in-bounds from under his own basket with about five seconds remaining, dribbled up the middle of the floor and drained a pull-up three from about 30 feet away to send the SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center into a frenzy.

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JoVon McClanahan celebrates after the championship win.

UH, which trailed 31-22 at halftime and 46-36 at the 10:16 mark, closed on a 22-11 run the rest of the way. The ‘Bows held SMU scoreless over the final 2:02 of the game while Noel Coleman hit a number of big shots down the stretch, highlighted by a three-pointer to cut the UH deficit to two with 1:41 left, setting the stage for McClanahan.

With a pair of starters saddled with foul trouble, the Rainbow Warriors got a number of key contributions from its bench, as Beon Riley and Mor Seck combined for 22 points and nine rebounds. Riley tied for the team-lead with 13 points and played key minutes down the stretch, while Seck scored a season-high nine points, grabbed six boards and delivered some strong play in the paint. Bernardo da Silva played limited minutes in the first half, but scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half while grabbing five boards. Coleman ended with nine points, scoring seven of them in the final eight minutes, while dishing out a team-high four assists.

McClanahan was named the tournament’s most valuable player and joined Coleman on the five-player all-tournament team.

Path to the championship game

The Rainbow Warriors got to the Diamond Head Classic championship game after defeating Pepperdine in the opening round, 76-70, and Washington State in the semifinals, 62-51.

Coleman led the way against the Waves on December 22 with 22 points. Senior forward Kamaka Hepa added 19 and McClanahan contributed 17. Senior forward Samuta Avea paced the ‘Bows against the Cougars on December 23 with 19 points and McClanahan added 16.

Starting conference play

The Rainbow Warriors will now head into conference play opening up their Big West schedule at home against UC Davis on Thursday, December 29 at 7 p.m., and Cal Poly on Saturday, December 31 at 5 p.m.

For more, see the UH Mānoa Athletics website.

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