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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Many leading men in UH's win over Butler

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

In a made-for-movie ending, several Hawai'i players turned in blockbuster performances against Butler last night.

Hawai'i rallied from a 21-point deficit to defeat Butler, 81-78, in overtime in the championship of the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.

It was a game that Hawai'i coach Riley Wallace called the greatest comeback in Rainbow Classic history and the 6,646 fans at the Stan Sheriff Center probably would have agreed.

"I don't know of a better championship game in all my years I've been around," Wallace said. "This is my 22nd one and it's got to be one of the best.

Hawai'i guard Michael Kuebler, a non-factor in the first half, scored 25 of his game-high 29 points in the second half, including six in overtime.

Haim Shimonovich, the defending Rainbow Classic MVP, blocked a potential game-winning basket to force overtime and finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Carl English, who overcame early foul trouble and finished with 21 points, including nine in the final 3:49 when Hawai'i rallied from a 64-51 deficit and tied the game at 66.

"We just stuck together," English said. "We never hung our heads. We played with a lot of heart and intensity and never gave up."

Indeed, Hawai'i never folded when Butler stormed to a 21-point lead at 37-16 in the first half and took a 37-26 halftime lead.

"As a team, we got really fired up and you could tell in the locker room ... we were going to come out and just give it all we got, and leave it on the court," Kuebler said.

Shimonovich's block on Butler center Joel Cornette saved the game in the final seconds of regulation and forced overtime. Seconds earlier, the 6-foot-10 center missed the front end of a one-and-one with the score tied at 66 that would have given Hawai'i the lead.

So did Kuebler who turned in a career-high scoring performance. He credited English for drawing attention away from him.

"It was the championship game, I knew they were going to focus on Carl," said Kuebler. "That frees things up for me when I come off picks."