Shockers clash with Colonials for Diamond Head Classic crown

Dec 25, 2014 - 3:20 PM Honolulu, HI ( - The 11th-ranked Wichita Shockers and George Washington Colonials will play for the Diamond Head Classic tournament title on Thursday evening at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The Shockers are in the tournament championship game thanks to a thrilling 80-79 overtime win over host Hawaii in the semifinal round. Wichita State knocked off Loyola Marymount in Monday's opening round with much more ease (80-53) and has improved to 10-1 on the season, with the lone loss coming on the road against Utah in overtime (69-68). The Shockers enter this contest with a six-game win streak in tow.

George Washington has found its way to the tournament title game with wins over Ohio (77-49) and Colorado (53-50). With the win over the Buffaloes on Tuesday in the semifinal round, the Colonials have now won five of their last six games to move to a solid 8-3 on the year. GW is playing for its first in- season tournament title since the 2005 BB&T Classic.

The Colonials are fueled by a strong defensive effort this season. GW comes into this contest allowing just 57.9 ppg to opponents, while holding them under 40-percent efficiency from the floor (.394) and under 30-percent hooting from behind the arc (.275). In addition, the team holds advantages in rebounding (+5.5) and turnovers (+3.0). Offensively, three of the team's five starters are averaging double digits in the scoring column. Patricio Garino headlines the group at 14.3 ppg. Kethan Savage and Kevin Larsen round out the trio with 12.0 and 11.3 ppg, respectively. Larsen leads the team in rebounding, grabbing 7.7 caroms per contest. Joe McDonald (9.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and John Kopriva (7.4 ppg) rounds out the starting five.

George Washington saved its best play for last, as the team erased a five- point Colorado lead late to earn the 53-50 victory on Tuesday and advance to the championship round. McDonald led all players in the game with 14 points. Kopriva (11 pts) and Yuta Watanabe (10 pts) were also in double figures for the Colonials, who held the Buffaloes to a meager .365 shooting effort in the game.

The Shockers needed a putback by Rashad Kelly with just three seconds remaining in the overtime session to sneak by the Rainbow Warriors and into the championship game. Wichita State placed four starters in double figures in the victory, led by Ron Baker's 17 points. Fred VanVleet added 13 points and doled out five assists. Kelly finished with 12 points in the win, while Darius Carter tacked on 10 points. Wichita State got away with the win despite shooting a rather ugly .397 from the floor in the game.

WSU has been much more efficient at the offensive end on the year. The Shockers are shooting a decent .455 on the season overall, leading to 76.2 ppg. Baker has been the top offensive threat, netting 17.2 ppg thanks in large part to his .419 shooting from behind the arc. Baker has accounted for 31 of the team's 84 3-pointers. Carter is next in the scoring column at 12.4 ppg, followed by VanVleet and his 11.7 ppg.

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