Dayton rebounds, Houston and No. 21 Washington advance to finals of Diamond Head Classic
Junior guard Ibi Watson, making his first collegiate start, scored 30 points as No. 18 Dayton (10-2) breezed past Grambling 81-53 on Monday evening.
The 6-5 Watson connected on 8 of 12 shots from the floor, including 4 of 5 from long distance, and drained all ten of his free throw attempts as the Flyers rebounded nicely from a heartbreaking overtime loss to Colorado.
Houston’s Quentin Grimes scored a game-high 26 points to lift the Cougars past Georgia Tech and 21st-ranked Washington used a stifling zone defense in defeating Hawaii to advance to the finals of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu on Christmas night.
Grimes, a talented 6-6 sophomore transfer from Kansas, made 10 of 11 shots from the field in the first half as Houston (9-3) led all the way in defeating Georgia Tech 70-59 to advance to the championship game against nationally-ranked Washington.
It was Houston’s seventh win in its past eight games.
Posting his first double-double of the season, Fabian White, Jr., scored 15 points and grabbed a dozen rebounds for the Cougars, who are one of the top rebounding teams in the country, averaging nearly 44 rebounds per game.
Moses Wright scored a team-high 19 points and pulled down 10 boards for Georgia Tech, which dropped to 5-6.
The Yellow Jackets will play Hawaii in Wednesday’s third-place game.
Six-nine freshman Isaiah Stewart, a consensus five-star prospect, scored a game-high 26 points and cleaned the glass for 13 rebounds as Washington (10-2) took care of hometown favorite Hawaii 72-61 in the second semifinal game late Monday.
Washington’s stifling defense limited Hawaii to a season-low 28 percent shooting from the field.
The Rainbow Warriors, who dropped to 8-4 with the loss, trailed 37-22 at the half, but made a late-surge to trim Washington’s lead to six points with 5:28 remaining before the Huskies pulled away for good with an eight-point spurt.
Derrick Alston, Jr., scored a season-high 32 points and had six assists as Boise State (7-5) beat Portland 85-69 in a consolation game. Boise State will face the winner of the UTEP-Ball State game in Wednesday’s fifth-place game while the Pilots (8-6), who were led by Chase Adams’ 19 points, will do battle with loser of the UTEP-Ball State game in the tournament’s seventh-place contest.
In other Monday night action, Kendric Davis and Feron Hunt combined for 36 points as SMU improved to 9-2 with an 85-76 victory over Georgia State (8-4) in Dallas on Monday evening.
Kane Williams, a 6-3 junior guard, scored a season-high 22 points for Georgia State, which had its seven-game winning streak snapped. The Panthers hadn’t lost since dropping a hard-fought 91-83 game to Georgetown on Nov. 17th.
Sophomore Khalil Shabazz, who shot a blistering 41.8 percent from beyond the arc at Div. II Central Washington, scored the game-winning bucket with a half second remaining as San Francisco (11-3) edged Fresno State 71-69. Trailing 69-64 with 59 seconds remaining, the Dons scored the final seven points of the game to escape with their eleventh victory of the season.
Anthony Edwards, a potential NBA lottery pick, scored 23 points as Georgia (8-3) rallied past Georgia Southern 73-64 in Athens on Monday night. Senior guard Ike Smith scored a game-high 25 points for Georgia Southern, which fell to 8-5.
Elsewhere, Seattle (7-7) had five players in double figures as the Redhawks routed visiting Long Beach State 79-57 and Elijah Burns buried a three-pointer with eight seconds remaining as Siena (4-5) won a 73-72 nail-biter against Canisius (5-6) in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) matchup in Albany.
The mellifluously-named Majesty Brandon, a 6-foot junior guard from the Bronx, scored a season-high 30 points for the Golden Griffins, who play Pittsburgh on the road next Monday.