The University of Hawaii women’s basketball team moved within one win of a Big West Conference title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, beating a pesky Cal State Fullerton team 73-64 on Friday in the semifinals of the Big West Tournament at the Honda Center.
Shawna-Lei Kuehu and Destiny King keyed the UH offense, scoring 18 and 13 points, respectively. King equaled game-high honors with 10 rebounds for the double-double as the ‘Bows saw a 20-point swing leave them trailing by as many as six points in the second half.
Marissa Wimbley added 12 points for the ‘Bows (23-7) who will play for the Big West title Saturday against the winner of UC Davis and CSUN. Also on the line will be the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since the 1997-98 season.
For Cal State Fullerton (13-19), Chante Miles posted a team-high 16 points but shot just 3-13 from the floor. Samantha Logan had 15 points, all from three-point range, and Kathleen Iwuoha added a team-high 10 rebounds.
The top-seeded ‘Bows, now winners of 15 straight, got off to a fast start, dialing from long distance on three of their first four baskets to take an early 11-5 lead. Kuehu came off the bench midway through the half and sparked and 11-0 run with back-to-back buckets, extending UH’s lead to 14 points.
The Titans had a solid shooting half of their own and got back into the game on the strength of a 6-9 three-point shooting period and a late 9-2 run, and Hawai’i had to settle for a 36-29 lead at the break.
The ‘Bows returned from the locker room only to see the Titans reel off nine straight points and take a two-point lead on a Tailer Butler (14 pts, 8 reb) three pointer. It wasn’t until Megan Huff’s basket 4:17 into the half did the ‘Bows get their first points. CSF would take a 43-40 lead on a Butler three pointer, but UH responded with an 8-0 run to regain the lead and the momentum.