Rainbow Wahine exit in first round of WNIT

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MORAGA, Calif.— The 2018-19 season came to an end for the University of Hawai’i women’s basketball team in the opening round of the women’s national invitational tournament, falling to Saint Mary’s 67-43 at the McKeon Pavilion on Friday night.
 
“Coming into tonight, we knew it was going to be a tough matchup for us,” said head coach Laura Beeman. “Saint Mary’s is an extremely well-coached team, and I believe they can make a deep run in the WNIT.”
 
The Rainbow Wahine (15-17) wrapped up the month of March by going 4-2, pushing them into postseason play as a Big West title contender and a WNIT hopeful. The Gaels (21-11) will advance to the second round of the tournament and will take on Pepperdine. UH moves to 0-3 all-time against Saint Mary’s in the WNIT, and 5-13 all-time in the tournament.
 
UH started strong with a four-point lead early in the second quarter at the 9:10 mark, but the Gaels came alive outscoring the ‘Bows 19-5 over the next nine minutes of action heading into halftime. The host controlled the painted area 16-2 over the first two frames of play, while UH relied on the three-point bucket to stay within in striking distance, hitting four-of-nine from long range.
 
The third quarter didn’t provide much help as the Gaels outscored the ‘Bows 21-6, combining for a 40-14 advantage between the two middle quarters. Even though UH outscored Saint Mary’s in the fourth, the deficit was too much to overcome.
 
Sophomore forward Amy Atwell led the team with 12 points and four rebounds while hitting two-of-five from beyond the arc and four-for-four from the free throw line. Her post player counterpart, sophomore center Lauren Rewers finished with a team-high nine rebounds and eight points.
 
On the other side, Megan McKay led the attack for the Gaels with a double-double at 16 points and 10 rebounds.
 
The ‘Bows kept the rebounding battle close with a 42-37 disadvantage and kept the turnovers limited at 11, same as the Gaels. But the shooting percentage hindered UH throughout the night, going a combined 15-of-60 from the floor for 25 percent. Saint Mary’s held a significant advantage inside the painted area, outscoring UH 36-8.
 
The 2018-19 season surpassed the previous two seasons where UH finished at 12-18, showing improvement as the year progressed, leading to the strong finish in BWC action and an automatic bid into the WNIT. Before the season, the ‘Bows were projected at No. 6 in conference standings by both the coaches and the media.
 
Seniors Tia KanoaLeah SalanoaLahni Salanoa, and Rachel Odumu are all scheduled to graduate in the spring, while eight players are projected to return next season.
 
“I’m incredibly proud of this team and tonight’s outcome doesn’t change anything about what we accomplished,” said Beeman. “They overcame so much adversity to get to this point. It was incredible to coach them and be a part of it.”

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