- Associated Press - Thursday, December 25, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - It may have been Christmas Day, but it was no holiday for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

Isaac Fleming scored 18 points off the bench to lead Hawaii past Colorado 69-66 on Thursday in the third-place game of the Diamond Head Classic.

The Rainbow Warriors (10-4) led by eight points at the 8:24 mark of the second half, but fell behind after a 12-0 run by the Buffaloes, before closing out the game on a 6-0 run.

Negus Webster-Chan and Garrett Nevels added 12 points apiece for Hawaii.

“I really wanted to finish in first place my senior year, but I’m really proud of my team and the way we came out and handled our business,” Nevels said. “We’ve got another game coming up and that’s what we’re focused on.”

Webster-Chan hit a right-handed floater from eight feet with 24 seconds remaining to give Hawaii at 67-66 lead - its first since 58-57 with just under six minutes to play. Roderick Bobbitt added a pair of free throws to make it a three-point lead.

Colorado had two chances to tie it in the final seconds, but Xavier Johnson and Askia Booker each missed a 3-pointer.

Hawaii rebounded from a heart-breaking 80-79 overtime loss to 11th-ranked Wichita State in the semifinals Tuesday.

“We just had to dig deep at the end and we got some key stops, some key rebounds,” Nevels said. “The loss the other night really hurt us and we weren’t going to let that happen again and we came together and we were able to pull it off.”

Josh Scott scored 23 points, Booker had 22 and Johnson 15 for the Buffaloes (7-5).

Hawaii won despite being outrebounded by Colorado 41-29, and having its leading scorer, Aaron Valdes, held to five points in 12 minutes.

Valdes picked up three fouls in six minutes in the first half and sat for most of the second half before fouling out with 2:33 to play.

However, the Rainbow Warriors held the edge in a number of other statistical categories, including field goal attempts (60 to 48), points in the paint (35 to 24), and most notably, bench points (30 to 4). They committed just nine turnovers, while the Buffaloes turned it over 16 times.

Fleming scored 11 of his points in the second half. He finished 7 of 13 from the field with six rebounds, five assists and two steals in 29 minutes.

It was the best finish for Hawaii in the six-year history of the Diamond Head Classic. The hosts finished fourth in the tournament’s inaugural year back in 2009.

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TIP-INS

Colorado: Booker averaged 19 points in each of the Buffaloes’ three Diamond Head Classic games. He tied a career-high with 27 points in a win over DePaul on Monday, but was held to eight points in a loss to George Washington Tuesday.

Hawaii: Fleming, who entered Thursday’s contest averaging 9.2 points per game (which ranks fourth on the team), totaled 45 points (15 points per game) in the Rainbow Warriors’ three tournament games.

NEVER TOO FAR BEHIND

The game went back-and-forth - there were five ties and five lead changes - as the Buffaloes never led by more than four points.

UP NEXT

Colorado hosts UCLA in its Pac-12 Conference opener on Jan. 2.

Hawaii will host Southern on Monday.

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