FULLERTON, Calif.—The University of Hawai’i women’s basketball team mounted a second-half comeback, but ultimately fell short on the road at Cal State Fullerton, 72-68 to begin Big West Conference play on Saturday afternoon.
The Rainbow Wahine (4-10, 0-1) have dropped three in a row, spanning back to Dec. 21 against Utah. UH is now 1-6 all-time in Big West Conference openers, the only win came during the 2015-16 season. The win by the Titans (9-5, 1-0) is their seventh over their last eight games.
“It comes down to consistency,” said head coach Laura Beeman. “When you foul a team as much as we are, you’re not going to win ball games. When we don’t foul our opponents and sure up our defense, we are a really good team, but when we don’t, it hurts.”
CSF built an early lead on the visiting ‘Bows taking a six-point advantage to the half with leading scorer, junior forward Makenna Woodfolk being held scoreless due to foul trouble. The Titans’ lead swelled to double-digits in the third frame of 46-35 but slowly diminished due to the play of sophomore post players Amy Atwell and Lauren Rewers.
UH pulled the game to a 50-50 stand still with just over nine minutes left to go. The two squads tussled over the next few minutes to another tie off 58-58 at the five-minute mark. After a made free throw by the Titans, UH regained the lead after a Rewers layup at 60-59. The host countered with a three-point bucket, taking a 62-60 advantage.
The ‘Bows kept within striking distance, but the Titans kept them at bay, outscoring the upstarts 13-8 in the final three minutes of action.
UH leaned on the production of Atwell as she notched a career-high 25 points in 16 minutes of action off the bench, hitting 9-of-11 from the floor, 4-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc, and 3-of-3 from the free throw line. Atwell’s previous career-high came back in 2017 against Northern Arizona when she accounted for 17 points.
For the second consecutive game, Rewers notched double-digits points as she tallied 10 points, three rebounds, and three assists. Adding valuable minutes off the bench was junior guard Courtney Middap as she collected five points, six rebounds, and four assists in 24 minutes.
“Amy (Atwell) and Lauren (Rewers) were our two positives from tonight, along with our ability to cut down on the turnovers,” said Beeman. “Amy got hot, and it was fun watching her play, while Lauren continues to build her confidence and be a very productive player for us.”
UH capitalized when it could from the free throw line hitting 11-of-12 from the line and inside the paint with 30 points. The bench scoring was a significant advantage for the ‘Bows outscoring the Titans 38-11.
Turnovers were even between the two teams at 11, but CSF swung the miscues into a 17-4 scoring advantage over UH, but the free throw line proved to play a significant role for CSF, doubling UH in attempts at 24 and converting on 20 of those attempts.
UH will travel back to the island of O’ahu when conference play continues next week with UC Davis and CSUN paying a visit to the Stan Sheriff Center. UH will match up with the Aggies on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 1 p.m. HT, followed CSUN on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7:00 p.m. HT.