For almost nine minutes, the Oklahoma Sooners did everything they could to make a shot as the final minutes of the Diamond Head Classic semifinal ticked away. Lay-ups spun in and out, 3-pointer clanged off the rim and mid-range shots found nothing but iron Wednesday night.
Somehow, even the worst cold stretch of the season couldn’t stop the Oklahoma.
After failing to hit a field goal in the final 8:55 against Hawaii, the Sooners knocked down nine free throws in the final 104 seconds to remain one of only five unbeaten teams in the country with an 84-81 victory.
No. 3 Oklahoma (10-0) will play Harvard in the championship game scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday – Christmas Day. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Khadeem Lattin, a 50-percent free throw shooter on the season, knocked down the final free throw of his career-high 17 points with three seconds to go but missed his second shot. Lattin struggled on the defensive end for much of the night but poked away a loose ball with two seconds to go and his length kept Hawaii from running a clean play to try for the game-winner.
Hawaii, which lost in its home arena for the first time all season, started the second half 15-for-20 to keep up with the hot shooting Sooners, who took a 16-point lead early in the first half.
The Rainbow Warriors went cold with Oklahoma, though.
Buddy Hield had just seven of his team-high 27 points in the second half but knocked down a pair of free throws with 1:42 to go to give Oklahoma a two-point lead. Guard Jordan Woodard was fouled on a 3-pointer, hitting two to extend the lead.
Woodard hit two more free throws, trading points with Hawaii, before Warriors’ guard Roderick Bobbitt hit a 3-pointer to narrow the gap to two points with 13.3 seconds to go.
Hield hit two more free throws before Lattin knocked down his free throw with four seconds to go.
Isaiah Cousins added 14 points for Oklahoma, which started 10-0 for the first time since a 12-0 start in 2008.