Valdes, Fleming lead Hawaii past Nebraska, 66-58
HONOLULU (AP) For just the second time in the six-year history of the Diamond Head Classic, the host team will be making a semifinal appearance.
Aaron Valdes scored 15 points and Isaac Fleming 10 as Hawaii held off Nebraska, 66-58, in a tournament quarterfinal game late Monday night.
The Rainbow Warriors (9-3) captured their second consecutive victory and fifth in their last six games and will face No. 11 Wichita State Saturday.
''I love our effort. I thought we played really, really smart down the stretch,'' Hawaii acting head coach Benjy Taylor said. ''We made stops when we needed to, we executed when we needed to and we made free throws when we needed to.''
Hawaii opened on an 8-0 run, but Nebraska stormed back, tying it at 11 on a 3-pointer by Walter Pitchford, and taking a brief lead on Terran Petteway's layup. Quincy Smith converted a three-point play to ignite a 6-0 Hawaii run that forged a 17-13 lead.
The Rainbow Warriors closed out the first half on an 11-4 run - capped by a steal and slam dunk by Roderick Bobbitt - to take a 34-23 lead at halftime.
The Cornhuskers' offensive struggles in the first half were evident by the numbers: 30 percent shooting from the field, 50 percent from the free-throw line and 11 turnovers.
Conversely, Hawaii held the halftime advantage in points in the paint (16 to 8), points off turnovers (12 to 3), second-chance points (7 to 1) and bench points (14 to 4).
Nebraska came out of intermission and quickly cut it to a three-point game with a 10-2 run and tied at 38 on a 3-pointer from the right wing by Pitchford at the 14:22 mark.
Pitchford drained another 3-pointer on the Cornhuskers' next possession and Benny Parker followed with a 17-foot jumper to give them a 43-40 lead.
However, the Rainbow Warriors scored the next eight points, aided by four consecutive Nebraska turnovers, to reclaim the lead.
Later in the half, Garrett Nevels hit a 3-pointer for Hawaii from the left corner to break a 53-all tie with 3:07 to play. Bobbitt drained another from behind the arc about a minute later to extend the lead to 59-53.
Nebraska answered with a pair of layups by Petteway and Benny Parker to cut it to 59-57 with 52 seconds remaining, but could get no closer.
''I thought we pulled it out, but I didn't think we played very well tonight, but like we typically do, we played hard, we played together and it was a unified effort,'' Taylor said.
Petteway finished with 14 points to lead the Cornhuskers (6-4), who also got 12 points apiece from Shavon Shields and Parker.
It was the seventh meeting between the teams. Hawaii has won five times, including the last time the teams faced off back in 2006, by a score of 81-72 in Honolulu.
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers shot just 30 percent from the field in the second half, but recovered to shoot 56 percent after halftime. They were just 13 of 23 from the free-throw line for the game.
Hawaii: The Rainbow Warriors led for 31 minutes and 28 seconds and by as many as 11 points at the 1:03 mark in the first half.
PENALIZED: Nebraska was assessed a technical foul prior to the start of the game for dunking during pregame warm-ups, which is not allowed by NCAA rules during the final 20 minutes before tip-off. Garrett Nevels shot and made both free throws to give Hawaii a 2-0 lead before the opening tip.
RETURN TO PLAY: Sophomore guard Negus Webster-Chan returned to the Hawaii lineup after missing the past two games with a sprained right ankle. The game also marked the debut of sophomore center Stefan Jankovic, who did not play in the Rainbow Warriors' first 11 games while awaiting final clearance after transferring from Missouri a year ago. Webster-Chan finished with seven points and five minutes in 24 minutes played, while Jankovic was held scoreless in four minutes of action.
Nebraska will play LMU in a consolation game Tuesday.
Hawaii will play No. 11 Wichita State in a semifinal Tuesday.
The Cornhuskers were in the bonus with about 12 minutes left in the first half and the double bonus at the 7:33 mark.