The University of Hawaii mens and womens basketball teams hit the road on Tuesday as both squads will play their final two regular-season games on the road before opening the Big West Conference Tournament next week.
The Rainbow Warriors will open their California swing at UC Davis on Thursday.
Hawai’i is in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Big West standings with UC Davis and CSUN.
The ‘Bows defeated the Aggies, 80-60, in the first meeting between the teams on January 26 in Manoa, but UH has lost three straight games which is tied for a season-long streak and is coming off an 84-73 loss to CSUN in its home finale on Saturday.
Before hitting the road, sophomore guard Drew Buggs expressed the team’s motivation as they left Manoa in hopes of staying away from the islands for as long as possible.
“We want to be gone for a really long time because that means that we’re winning and we’re playing good basketball and that hopefully we’re advancing to the tournament. That’s always the goal and we’re just going to come out here and try to compete and get back on track,” Buggs told KHON2 Sports Reporter Ren Clayton.
“I think of we’re gone for a while that means we made the fix defensively. It’s as clear as that. I think we have been managing for a month or so and the hope was that would help us at this point where we can have all fifteen practicing and having good practices. So, we will have the advantage of being out on the road where we can maybe that Monday we’re not coming off of a travel day. We can have good practices up there as well,” added head coach Eran Ganot.
UH is 2-4 in Big West road games this season and has lost its last three on the mainland.
Following its game at UC Davis, UH will conclude its regular season at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, March 9 and will remain on the mainland for the Big West Tournament (March 14-16).
As for the Rainbow Wahine (12-15, 8-6), they will open their final trip against UC Riverside on Thursday.
UH heads into the last week of the regular season with a convincing 70-55 win over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Mar. 2. Junior guard Courtney Middap led the Rainbow Wahine scoring attack with 14 points, while UH committed a season-low eight turnovers against the Titans.
Against conference foes, UH has held its own at 8-6, but most impressively, the ‘Bows have yet to be swept this season by a conference opponent. In return UH has swept two opponents, the first being Cal Poly, and the second was UC Santa Barbara.
Both UC Riverside and CSUN hold road wins over UH from earlier in the season. Away from the island of O’ahu, UH has a 4-7 overall record while also owning a mark of 3-3 on the road against conference teams. The Bows upset CSUN last season on Feb. 22 at the Matadome, but have not won at UCR since Feb. 12, 2015.
According to head coach Laura Beeman, with her team currently sitting in the top four of the conference standings which means a double-bye in the tournament, the team is motivated to make some noise in their final two regular season games before opening tourney play.
“The excitement sure or getting a double bye I think is there, but they also know that we’re in the tournament and wherever we go we’re going to play and we’re going to do our best to win the whole thing. A double bye, a single bye, we’re just glad to be in it. We don’t want any moral victories though, so once we get in that tournament we’re going to take care of business,” said Beeman.
Even though UH dropped its game to UCR on Jan. 30 by a score of 60-55, the Bows mounted a furious comeback in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Highlanders 23-9. The spark and swing of momentum showcased the ‘Bows’ ability to hang with anyone in the conference as they went on to win four of their next five games.
Opening tip against the Highlanders is set for 5:00 pm HST on Thursday.
Both the Rainbow Warriors and Rainbow Wahine games are streamed at bigwest.tv