Published December 24, 2011
HONOLULU – Xavier coach Chris Mack summed up the No. 14 Musketeers' latest post-brawl loss in a hurry.
"This was as disappointing a game for as long as I've been around," Mack said.
Hawaii relegated the reeling Musketeers to the seventh-place game in the Diamond Head Classic, rallying for an 84-82 overtime victory Friday night in the consolation semifinals.
Joston Thomas sent the Musketeers to their third straight loss since the bench-clearing brawl Dec. 10 against Cincinnati, making a layup from the baseline with 0.8 seconds left.
"I'm my mind, my heart I was thinking we're not losing," Thomas said. "No excuses. We have to pull through."
Down by 15 early in the second half of the consolation semifinal, Hawaii tied it at 77 on Hauns Brereton's 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2.0 seconds left in regulation.
Thomas finished with a career-high 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting and had nine rebounds. Vander Joaquim added 20 points for Hawaii (6-5), Zane Johnson had 14 and Brereton 13.
The victory was Hawaii's first over a ranked team since it beat then-No. 4 Michigan State in November 2005.
"We struggled defensively in the second half," Mack said. "We're struggling offensively. We got some open looks we didn't knock down."
On the winning play, Johnson penetrated the lane before passing to Thomas, whose right-handed shot circled the rim before falling through. It wasn't the way Hawaii coach Gib Arnold planned it.
"We drew up a play where Zane comes off a screen and knocks down a jumper for us like he's done all season," said Thomas, describing the winning play. Instead, Johnson penetrated the lane before passing to Thomas, whose right-handed shot circled the rim before falling through.
A desperation heave by Xavier from about 75 feet as time expired was well short.
Tu Holloway led Xavier (8-3) with 26 points, Mark Lyons had 18 and Kenny Frease 13. Xavier has lost three straight for the first time under coach Mack.
Lyons played for the first time since the victory over Cincinnati. He was one of three Musketeers suspended for their parts in the altercation.
Holloway, who returned from his one-game suspension Thursday in a first-round loss to Long Beach State, was 4 of 8 from 3-point range and 7 of 16 overall. He also had six assists.
Holloway left the game briefly with an apparent right (shooting) hand injury early in the game.
Xavier opened the game on a 12-0 run and stretched the lead to 15 with 17:17 remaining in regulation.
"They jumped on us pretty good and I think we were down 15 in the second half," Arnold said. "This team has some character and we're finding out who we are. We're still figuring things out."
Johnson's 3-pointer pulled Hawaii to 75-74 with 3:10 to play, but Holloway answered for the Musketeers with a 3-pinter with 24 seconds. Brereton then hit his tying 3-pointer off an assist from Jeremiah Ostrowski.
Hawaii took its first lead on the first possession of overtime on Joaquim's dunk.
The Rainbow Warriors, who rebounded from a quarterfinal loss to Auburn on Thursday, will face Clemson in the fifth-place game Sunday. The Musketeers will play Southern Illinois for seventh place.