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Hawaii 73, Tulsa 59

Updated:

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ It's a long way from Honolulu to Tulsa, although the Hawaii basketball team has no complaints.

The Rainbow Warriors, behind 28 points from Predrag Savovic, beat Tulsa 73-59 Saturday night to win the Western Athletic Conference tournament. It marked the second straight year they beat Tulsa on the Hurricane's home floor to win the title game and earn the automatic NCAA bid that goes with it.

``Our guys feel comfortable in this arena,'' coach Riley Wallace said. ``Coming in the way we have to come in, you can look at it as a negative or you can look at it as a positive. As a team, we decided last year that it was going to be a positive thing for us.''

The Rainbow Warriors needed overtime to win last year's title game. This time, they overcame a nine-point first-half deficit, then held off a Tulsa rally after building a 16-point lead in the second half.

The Golden Hurricane (26-6) lost to Hawaii for the third time this season, due in part to a season-low 34 percent shooting.

``Hawaii was the better team tonight,'' coach John Phillips said. ``They played great defense, they rebounded the ball well, they bided their time until they got hot. It just didn't seem like it was meant to be.''

Carl English had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Phil Martin had 13 points and nine rebounds for Hawaii. Jason Parker and Antonio Reed scored 18 each for Tulsa.

The Hurricane used a 13-3 run to take a 22-13 lead with 10:34 left before halftime, and led 25-16 after a 3-pointer by Parker with 8:47 left. But Tulsa didn't make another field goal the rest of the half, and Hawaii rallied to tie it at 29.

Tulsa's shooting problems continued in the second half, when they went 2-for-12 in the opening 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Savovic had eight points as Hawaii built a 49-33 lead.

``When we got behind there at the start of second half, I don't want to say we panicked, but we got in a hurry on offense,'' Phillips said. ``We didn't do the things we've been doing all year.''

A three-point play by Mindaugas Burneika gave the Rainbow Warriors their second 16-point lead, 52-36, with 8:24 to play. Then Tulsa put together a 15-2 run _ Parker had two 3-pointers, Reed had one _ to get to 54-51.

It was 56-53 after Kevin Johnson scored inside with 4:29 left, but Tulsa got no closer as Hawaii pulled away.

``It's a total team effort,'' Savovic said. ``Sometimes one guy steps up, another night the other guy steps up. We as a team won this tournament and we as a team had a great season. My game is just a part of the team.''

Tulsa wound up in the NIT last year. Wallace and Phillips each said the Hurricane shouldn't be left out of the NCAA picture this season.

``This team deserves to go to the NCAA tournament,'' Phillips said. ``Where they seed us, I don't care, I really don't. I think we can beat anybody.''
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