No. 11 Wichita State outscored Hawaii 17-6 in second-chance points, none bigger than Rashard Kelly’s putback in the lane with 3.8 seconds left, as the Shockers escaped with an 80-79 overtime victory over the Rainbow Warriors to advance to the Diamond Head Classic championship game on Christmas night against George Washington.
Kelly scored a career-high 12 points. While struggling from the field, Ron Baker led Wichita State with 17 points, off 5-of-19 shooting (2-of-11 from three). Aaron Valdes and Isaac Fleming both matched Baker’s point total to lead Hawaii.
Once again, Tuesday night’s thriller put a spotlight on the Wichita State offense, still feeling the effects of Cleanthony Early’s departure. The Shockers were under 40 percent from the field and hit a quarter of their shots from beyond the arc.
Wichita State found itself down 11 to Alabama last Tuesday. A full-court press held the Crimson Tide without a field goal for almost the final six minutes of regulation in a 53-52 win for the Shockers. Against the Rainbow Warriors, Wichita State needed timely defensive plays.
Baker blocked a 3-pointer from Negus Webster-Chan at the end of regulation and the Shockers also forced an errant inbounds pass, trailing 77-75, with under a minute to play. Fred VanVleet would take advantage with his lone 3-pointer of the game.
On Thursday night, Wichita State will have its offense tested again, facing George Washington, ranked top 20 in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to kenpom. After losing to Virginia, Seton Hall and Penn State, the Colonials are also in search of a marquee non-conference win.