In its second consecutive Big West Conference tournament title game, the University of Hawaii women’s basketball team prevailed over UC Santa Barbara 61-59.
In improving to 18-14 for the 2022-2023 season, the Rainbow Wahine punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.
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After one of its best shooting performances of the year in a semifinal victory over Long Beach State on Friday, the Rainbow Wahine found themselves down 15 points at halftime on Saturday, a deficit that lasted midway through the third quarter.
Hawaii outscored the Gauchos 38-21 the rest of the way, lifted by heroic efforts from Daejah Phillips and point guard Lily Wahinekapu.
In a play that will be remembered fondly in the annals of UH basketball history, the Rainbow Wahine took their first lead since the first quarter on a 3-point play from Phillips with 3.4 seconds left. A 3-point attempt at the buzzer by Anya Choice was off the mark, sealing Hawaii’s win.
Wahinekapu and Phillips each finished with 19 points, and each also scored 11 points in the fourth quarter. Wahinekapu, who hit all three of her 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter, was named to the Big West All-Tournament team. Meanwhile, Phillips was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
For UC Sanata Barbara (21-12), Alexis Tucker finished with a game-high 21 points.
Hawaii will discover its 2023 NCAA Tournament seeding and opponent on Sunday’s NCAA selection show, which will be shown on ESPN at 2 p.m. HST.