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Hawaii Advances to WAC Tournament Semifinals Today

Posted March 9, 2012, 07:31 AM HST
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Junior forward Hauns Brereton connected on a baseline jumper with three seconds left to lift an inspired University of Hawaii men’s basketball team to thrilling 72-70 win over Idaho in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at the Orleans Arena.

UH won despite playing without its best shooter in Zane Johnson (14.0 ppg). The Bows were also without Joston Thomas for much of the second half after he fouled out with 12:13 remaining.

The victory was also the Bows first WAC Tournament win since 2005—a span of six straight losses. UH will make its first tournament semifinal appearance in nine years when they face No. 2 New Mexico State today 4 p.m. Hawaii time.

Brereton stepped up his game, scoring 17 points  and grabbing 11 rebounds, recording his first career double-double. Freshman guard Shaquille Stokes, who started in play of Johnson, scored 17 points. Meanwhile, all-WAC center Vander Joaquim rebounded from tough pair of games in last week’s regular-season finale — including a four-point effort against the same Vandal squad — to lead UH with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

UH held double-digit leads in both halves, but needed to rally from a seven-point deficit late in the game to advance to the semis and avenge a 19-point home loss to the Vandals (18-13) just one week ago. The Bows tied its season low with seven turnovers and regained its aggressiveness on the boards, out-rebounding Idaho, 41-33.

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Idaho entered the game having won seven of its last eight contests, but an energetic UH squad jumped out to 19-8 lead midway through the first half. The Bows held Idaho to just a 3-of-20 shooting start in building the double-digit lead and eventually took a 35-28 advantage into the locker room.

UH built its lead back to double-digits, 39-28, just 90 seconds into the second half. But the Vandals went on a 17-2 run to take a 45-41 lead. Shortly after head coach Gib Arnold earned a technical foul, Idaho built its lead to 62-55 and enjoyed a seven-point cushion until almost the five-minute mark.

However, UH wouldn’t quit out-scoring the Vandals 15-6 in the final 5:13 of the game, while Brereton scored six of the team’s final eight points in the last 2:24, including the game-winner.

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