Hawaii's Nkeruwen Akpan went to the hoop against Tennessee Tech's Greg Morgan in last night semifinals.

Hawaii in Classic final

The Rainbows beat
Tennessee Tech and
will play Butler tonight

By Cindy Luis

A streak is a funny thing. It takes the next game to make or break it.

Something's got to give. And it will happen tonight.

It will either be Hawaii's home-court run of 18, or Butler's undefeated season when the two meet for the championship of the 39th Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic at 7:30 p.m.

Hawaii (6-1) advanced to the title contest for the third time in four years after dispatching Tennessee Tech 74-61 in last night's second semifinal at the Stan Sheriff Center. The defending champion Rainbows hit 21 of 27 free throws and got a clutch jumper from Nkeruwem Akpan with 50.1 seconds left to win their fourth straight.

Butler (10-0), on a 3-point shot by Brandon Miller with 2.4 seconds to go, survived a tough game with Western Kentucky 63-60. A crowd of 5,421 saw the Bulldogs remain one of eight undefeated teams in the country.

Tennessee Tech (6-5) meets Western Kentucky (6-5) in the 5 p.m. third-place game.

In consolation play, Bradley (3-7) takes on Chicago State (3-7) for fifth place at 1:30 p.m. The Braves routed Alcorn State 95-68 yesterday.

Chicago State edged Texas-Pan American 57-54 on a half-court shot by Craig Franklin at the buzzer.

The Broncs (4-10) were to meet Alcorn State (1-9) for seventh place at 11 a.m.

With the game on the line, the Rainbows were uncharacteristically solid from the free-throw line. Hawaii, shooting 62 percent as a team, hit 78 percent last night to secure the win.

"It's about time we started hitting those," said English, 6-for-9 en route to a season-high 26 points. "And I can't stress how important it is to be in the championship, particularly at home.

"Hopefully, we'll get a full house that it will be like Tulsa or Kansas. Butler's a good team and they're going to be tough."

Tech was tougher than many expected, pulling within 58-56 late. English hit two free throws and Mark Kuebler knocked down his only 3-pointer for a 62-57 margin with 3:25 to go.

The Golden Eagles used two free throws by Kenyon Boyd to close to 66-61 with 1:26 to go. Enter Akpan, who scored seven of the team's last nine to help UH pull away.

"I think we did our jobs tonight," said Akpan, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. "When I came in at the end, I brought my intensity. And I give thanks to God that I hit that shot."

Akpan's jumper with 50.1 seconds just beat the shot clock. It started a 9-0 run that finished the game.

Also in double figures for Hawaii was Phil Martin with a season-high 19. Tech was led by Antwyon Jones with 14. Brent Jolly and Cameron Crisp added 12 each and Damine Kinloch had 10.

"I was feeding off of Carl at the beginning," said Martin. "That's how we got it going."

The Rainbows started off hot, hitting their first six shots to take a quick 14-2 lead. English and Martin combined for all of Hawaii's points in the opening eight minutes -- English hitting for 13 and Martin six as the Rainbows expanded their lead to the biggest margin of the half 19-6.

Hawaii cooled off while Tech warmed up. Senior center Greg Morgan scored eight points in the first half, including a jumper that brought the Golden Eagles within 22-21 with 6:14 left.

Mark Campbell gave Hawaii some breathing room with a 3-point play and the Rainbows hit 7 of 8 free throws in the final five minutes to claim a 34-27 halftime advantage.

UH Athletics

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