Kala‘i Santos banked in a 74-foot shot at the buzzer as No. 2 Punahou rallied to edge No. 3 Saint Louis 59-58 on Wednesday night at McCabe Gymnasium.
A stunned crowd of about 500 watched as Punahou chipped away at a 13-point deficit in the second half. Saint Louis led most of the way, but got the ball back with no time outs left and 1.7 seconds to play.
Santos took an inbounds pass from Micah Ma‘a and immediately launched a set shot — not a throw — that banked home. He was rewarded moments later with a big kiss on the cheek from his girlfriend.
Punahou improved to 3-0 in ILH play. Saint Louis dropped to 2-1.
Saint Louis played more than well enough to win, but 13-for-23 shooting at the charity stripe was a factor. The Crusaders shot 51 percent from the field (20-for-39). Punahou shot just 36 percent from the field (15-for-42), but was 7-for-14 in the final quarter. The Buffanblu outrebounded Saint Louis 26-23.
Punahou shot 10-for-26 from the 3-point arc and did not have a turnover in the final 8 minutes.
To a man, the Buffanblu felt they were as lucky as they were deserving of their miraculous win.
“Saint Louis played a helluva game. We just executed and made our shots at the end,” Punahou’s Jordan Tanuvasa said. “Everyone came in off the bench and played well.”