Fresh off of a four game sweep on the road the 21st ranked Hawaii Pacific University women’s basketball team will close out their regular season this week with a chance to secure its first Pacific West Conference title in three years.
The Sharks who enter the week 23-2 overall, 17-1 in the PWC have won a school record 19 consecutive games dating back to December 9th, but hold just a one game advantage in the conference standings.
This Thursday, HPU will face off with 19th ranked Azusa Pacific, with a victory earning the program’s third Pac West title.
As usual, the mission comes with a focus on unity, which is a trait that is the glue of a team that is represented by three different countries and seven states.
“We definitely have girls from all over the place. East coast, Australia, New Zealand and one thing that we always talked about at the beginning of the year is ‘ohana, family and being that everyone is away from home, this is their family” said head coach Reid Takatsuka.
“We are all from very different parts of the world, like I’m from Australia. A long way away from home and we’re all stuck on this island together so we are really forced to be with each other 24-7 and spend a lot of time with each other so I think that really has something to do with it” added senior forward Jessi Reeves, who hails from Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia.
Of the 13 players on the Sharks roster only one player is from Hawaii, being freshman guard Starr Rivera of Roosevelt.
There are four players from Australia, one from New Zealand, two from California, with Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Ohio, and Florida represented as well.
“Having a good connection with the team and you know? We’re like a family. It’s a blessing to find a family on this island, especially since all of us are not from here and coach doesn’t pressure us on anything, he just says if you do your job we’ll do the little things which will get us to complete the bigger things on the court” said senior guard Janessa Manzano.
Heading into Thursday’s conference title game The Sharks defeated the Cougars 73-69 at Azusa on January 18th. A victory clinches the regular season title and the top seed in the conference tournament. A loss will keep the championship race open heading into HPU’s season finale at UH Hilo on Saturday.