The most likely of the closing-seconds three-pointers was the one that failed Saturday night, leaving host UC Irvine to swallow its first defeat in Big West Conference play.
Travis Souza's open three-point attempt from near the top of the key went in and out with seven seconds left and the Anteaters trailing visiting Hawaii, 88-86.
The Rainbow Warriors gained possession and were fouled and sank both free throws with four seconds remaining to close out a 90-86 victory that was UCI's first loss in seven January games.
The loss did not cost UCI (13-8, 4-1 in conference) sole possession of first place in the Big West, as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo lost to remain one-half game back and UC Santa Barbara was given its second conference loss on Saturday.
The Anteaters' Alex Young banked in a 41-foot three-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer and give the hosts a 43-38 halftime advantage.
But Hawaii (14-5, 3-2) got an off-balance, double-clutching three-pointer from Keith Shamburger from about 23 feet out in the final second of regulation to force overtime. The shot, launched from an extended position outside the right side of Shamburger's body, first brushed UCI defender Luke Nelson on the chest as Nelson leapt out at Shamburger, before finding the net.
UCI, which shot 55% from the field, led 86-83, with 2:19 left in overtime, but the visitors scored the final seven points of the contest and the Anteaters finished two for seven (28.6%) from the field in the five-minute extra session.
"We got an open shot from our best three-point shooter [Souza] and the ball went down and came back out," UCI Coach Russell Turner said.
"The shot they made in overtime, we contested really well," Turner said. "We did exactly what we were supposed to do. We can't fault anyone for that. They just beat us."
Hawaii, which came in leading the Big West in scoring, beat the Anteaters on the boards (40-32) and in the execution department at the end of regulation and during overtime.
The Rainbow Warriors made three of five field-goal tries in overtime and managed points on its final four possessions of the game.
UCI sustained a shot-clock violation with a little more than a minute left in overtime and Young missed a driving left-handed runner against solid defense of Hawaii's 6-foot-8 Christian Standhardinger with 26 seconds left.
Hawaii also excelled at the start, making its first eight field-goal tries to leads of 10-2, 19-9 and 23-13.
But UCI buckled down, as reserve guard Aaron Wright got hot and they began attacking the rim with their big men and their guards. The Anteaters led by as many as 10 midway through the second half.
Mamadou Ndiaye, a 7-6 freshman center, made all five of his field-goal tries, including four dunks, to extend his current streak to 25 straight made shots from the field. The NCAA record is 26. Ndiaye added a team-best eight rebounds and posted his 67th block of the season. . But he was two for seven from the foul line, including four straight misses in the second half, and he fouled out with 2:03 left in overtime to end a 22-minute outing.
Will Davis was five for six from the field to join the other four UCI starters in double-figures with 10 points.
Ndiaye had 12, as did Chris McNealy and Wright, while Young led the way with 14. Luke Nelson added 11 for the Anteaters, who recorded all 27 of the game's bench points.
Hawaii, meanwhile, found production from all five starters, led by 6-8 sophomore Isaac Fotu, who connected on 13 of 16 field-goal attempts on his way to 30 points.
"As a team we're disappointed and probably feel a little unlucky again, like we did against Fresno State," Turner said, referring to the season opening overtime loss to the visiting Bulldogs. "But I don't want to take anything away from Hawaii and say [the visitors] were lucky to beat us, because they were really good. We didn't rebound and we let them get a real rhythm against our zone. They figured it out as the game went on and were pretty good against it. And they made a lot of tough plays."
UCI rebounds with a tough road challenge next week, at UC Santa Barbara on Thursday and at Cal Poly on Saturday.