HONOLULU– For the first time since 2016, the University of Hawai’i women’s basketball team is dancing in the NCAA Tournament. As the No. 15 seed in the Wichita Region, UH will face off with national contender and No. 2 seed Baylor on Friday at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.
|GAME 29 | #15. HAWAI’I (20-9, 13-3) VS. #2. BAYLOR (27-6, 15-3)|
|Date | Time||Friday, Mar. 18, 2022 3:00 p.m. CT (10:00 a.m. HT)|
|Location||Waco, Tex.- The Ferrell Center Center|
|Live Stats||NCAA Round 1|
|Game Notes||Hawai’i (PDF) | Baylor|
|Social Media||@HawaiiWBB | #HawaiiWBB | @hawaiiwbb | Facebook|
NEWS & NOTES
- Friday’s game will make the seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament for UH, three as an automatic bid (1996, 2016, and 2022) and four as an at-large bid (1989, 1990, 1994, and 1998).
- The No. 15 seed marks the lowest seed the Rainbow Wahine has ever received in the NCAA Tournament. UH was a No. 8 seed in 1998, a No. 9 seed in 1990, a No. 11 seed in 1996, a No. 12 seed twice in 1989 and 1994, and a No. 14 seed in 2016.
- UH is 1-6 all-time in the NCAA tournament. The program’s lone win came in 1990 as the No. 9 seed, defeating No. 8 seed Montana, 83-78. UH lost in the second round to the eventual national champion Stanford, 106-76.
- Before 2022, 2016 was the last appearance for UH in the Big Dance. The year also marked the end of an 18-year drought of UH not making the NCAA Tournament. The Rainbow Wahine fell short at Pauley Pavilion to UCLA 66-50.
- The conference tournament title and an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament is the second for head coach Laura Beeman. The five previous bids into the tournament came under head coach Vince Goo.
- The ‘Bows are coming off the program’s third-ever Big West Conference Tournament title after knocking off UC Irvine 59-48 on Saturday, March 12th. The ‘Bows survived and advanced with a one-point win, 48-47, in the quarterfinals over CSU Bakersfield, followed by a convincing 69-55 victory over UC Riverside in the semifinals.
- UH enters the tournament on an eight-game win streak, its longest of the season. The last loss came at home to UC San Diego on February 17th, 62-60. On top of the win streak, UH has won 13 of its last 14 games.
- The 2021-22 campaign marks the third 20 win season under head coach Laura Beeman. The two previous came in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
- When the ‘Bows and Bears tip-off on Friday, it will be the fourth time the two programs have faced off. Baylor holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series dating back to 1995. UH won the first encounter 71-57 on Nov. 25th, 1995 but dropped the next two in 2001, 70-65, and the latest in 2012, 77-42. All three games were played in Honolulu, and the 2012 game was during Beeman’s first season, while Baylor was ranked No. 1 in the country.
SO NICE, THEY DID IT TWICE
The 2021-22 season will go down as a historic one for the Rainbow Wahine as this year’s team did something no other team has done in program history. The ‘Bows claimed the Big West Conference regular-season title and tournament title in the same season. As a member of the Big West over two separate stints, UH won the regular-season title three times (1992-93, 1993-94, and 2014-15). As a member of the Western Athletic Conference, it happened once (1997-98). In contrast, the tournament championships occurred in the Big West (1996 and 2016).
A GREAT STREAKING STORY
The ‘Bows have been on a roll lately, winning 13 of their last 14 games, including eight in a row. The current streak of eight straight is the second-longest under coach Laura Beeman and the most since the 2014-15 season when the Rainbow Wahine rattled off 15 in a row. The longest in program history dates back to 1998 when Vince Goo and company strung together 19 in a row spanning from Dec. 7th, 1997 to Feb. 22nd, 1998.
SHE DESERVES IT
After being picked fourth in the media poll and fifth in the coaches preseason poll, head coach Laura Beeman led the ‘Bows to their first regular-season championship since 2015. As a result, she was awarded as Big West Coach of the Year for the second time at UH. The win total of 13 against conference opponents is the second-highest in one season for Beeman. The only other year she recorded more was when she won the award the first time in 2015 with 14 wins.
JUST THE START
Graduate forward Amy Atwell is the heartbeat of the team, serving as the leader in most statistical categories. While losing Atwell will be a setback for next season, UH finds itself in an exciting position. To date, 13 players from the championship roster are eligible to return next season, including fellow graduate students Kallin Spiller and McKenna Haire. Both came from the Ivy League and have an extra season due to the 2020-21 season canceled. On top of the possible 13 returnees, eight are classified as freshmen this season, three as true freshmen (Jacque David and Eva Ongoongotau), and five as “COVID Freshmen” (Kelsie Imai, Nnenna Orji, Daejah Phillips, Meilani McBee, and Olivia Davies).
PREPARING TO TAKE OVER
Two players who have emerged as go-to offensive threats outside of Atwell are second-year freshman Daejah Phillips and redshirt freshman Olivia Davies. Phillips is the second-leading scorer on the team with 10.3 points per game. She was previously named “Sixth Man of the Year” in 2021 and most recently a conference honorable mention in 2022. Davies has been a spark plug throughout the season, averaging 8.7 points per game, including 10 double-digit scoring games. Davies is currently on a four-game streak of 10 points or more and was the only Rainbow Wahine to pour in double-digit points in all three games of the Big West Tournament, earning her a spot on the all-tournament squad.
CHAMPIONSHIP NOTESHUSTLE AND MOTIVATED
The ‘Bows have now won five regular-season conference championships, four in the Big West Conference (1992-93′, 1993-94′, 2014-15’, 2021-22) and one in the WAC (1997-98). The program has two tournament championships (1996 & 2016) in the Big West. After claiming the regular-season title in the last game of the regular season, half the mission is complete to try and be the first team in program history to win both championships in the same year.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CLIMB
Much like their viral social media video claimed after the ‘Bows road win over Cal Poly, it’s all about the climb. UH has been one of the few teams that challenged UC Davis in championship gold over the last few seasons. The ‘Bows and Aggies battled in the conference tournament’s semifinals a year ago, with UCD coming out on top. In 2020, UH was riding momentum heading into the tournament after a slow start in conference play. Following their quarterfinals win over Cal State Fullerton, the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UH made their way to the championship game in 2019, their first appearance since they won it all in 2016, but a lead in the second half fell apart as UH came up short to the Aggies.
TEARS AND CHEERS
Beeman took over the program before the 2012-13 season, the three years prior under head coach Dana Takaha-Dias, UH was a combined 32-58, including a 17-27 record against WAC opponents. In 2012-13 and 2013-14 campaigns, Beeman made UH a contender in the Big West, going 23-11 over her first two seasons. In year three, the ‘Bows went 14-2 in conference play for Beeman’s first regular-season championship, but the ‘Bows were upset in the tournament championship game by CSUN. The following year UH had something to prove as they went 12-4, finishing No. 2 in the conference. The ‘Bows took care of business with a convincing 78-59 win over UC Davis for the program’s second conference tournament title and their first trip to the NCAA tournament in 17 seasons.
UH has earned 16 national postseason tournament bids since the program came to be in 1974. The first was a trip to the NCAA tournament that came under head coach Vince Goo in 1989. In Goo’s 17 seasons as the head coach, the ‘Bows went to five NCAA tournaments and five WNITs. UH went nine years without a national postseason bid, spanning from 2003 to 2012. In Beeman’s first four seasons, UH went to the WNIT three straight years and the NCAA tournament in her fourth. The last postseason bid for the program was after the 2018-19 season when UH went to the WNIT for a fourth time under Beeman.
BRING THE NOISE
Postseason success on the national stage isn’t easy for mid-majors, but when it happens, it’s memorable. In Goo’s five NCAA tournament appearances, UH picked up one victory in the “Big Dance,” It came in the first round against Montana in 1990 with an 83-78 victory in Missoula, Montana. The ‘Bows are a combined 1-6 in the NCAA Tournament and have lost five straight since the win in 1990. Three of the six have been decided by 10 points or less.
LEGACY OF AMY ATWELLWHAT AN HONOR
In the history of the Rainbow Wahine basketball program, very few players have been given the honor of being named Play of the Year like Amy Atwell. The program’s all-time leading scorer Judy Mosley was named Co-Player of the Year of the PCAA (precursor of the Big West) for the 1989-90 season. As a member of the WAC, UH recorded three consecutive years of a player receiving the honor. Nani Cockett was named the WAC Pacific Division Player of the Year for the 1997-98 season, followed by Raylene Howard winning it in back-to-back season, first in the Pacific Division (1998-99) and later the conference Co-Player of the Year (1999-00). Atwell is the first ‘Bow to win the high honor in the Big West.
CLIMBING THE RANKINGS
Since joining the 1,000 point club on January 22nd, Atwell has been working her way up the all-time scoring chart at UH, recently cracking the top-10 at 1,241. At No. 8 is another former six-year player like Atwell in Shawna Lei-Kuehu with 1,245.
THERE’S ONLY ONE QUEEN
On February 5th, in front of her home crowd at SimpliFi Arena, Atwell drained a step-back three in the fourth quarter of a 76-57 win against UC Riverside, making her the all-time three-point queen in Rainbow Wahine basketball history. Atwell keeps adding to her all-time mark at 199 and counting.
REALLY? ANOTHER RECORD?
During the 2019-20 season guard, Julissa Tago put together an impressive season averaging 15 points per game, shattering the UH single-season three-point record with 66. In the same season, Atwell hit 63, giving her teammate and best friend a challenge down the stretch. Atwell surpassed her buddy in the 2021-22 season and set a new single-season record with 70 and counting.
HOW LONG HAS SHE BEEN HERE?
In the Big West Conference tournament championship game, Atwell tied a school record and will break it with her appearance in the NCAA tournament. She is currently tied with Shawna-Lei Keuhu with 125 career games at UH. Friday’s game will give her 126, setting a new record. Ironically, her career average in minutes of 21.4 a game is nowhere near the top-10. The same goes for minutes played at 2,669, not in the top-10.
LOVE THY THREE-BALL
Atwell has attempted 524 three-pointers going into the NCAA Tournament, putting her at No. 2 all-time. The only other player to attempt 500 or more threes at UH is Megan Tinnin with 526. Even more astonishing is her career shooting percentage currently sits at .380, now No. 2 in the UH record book. As it stands, Atwell is the only student-athlete to finish in the top three of career makes attempts and three-point shooting percentage at UH.
SHE’S DOING WHAT NOW?!?!
Atwell has put herself in rarefied air as one of the elite players to ever play for the Rainbow Wahine. She is the first ‘Bow to average better than 17 points per game in a single season in over 20 years by averaging 17.4 points per game. Only two players have averaged 18 points or better as a senior in program history. Judy Mosley averaged 25.7 points per game in 1989-90, and Nani Cockett averaged 19.4 in 1997-1998.
LET’S GO CLUBBING
Scoring 1,000 points in a career is a huge milestone, and at UH, there are 23 members of the club, with Atwell being the latest join. But she’s also a part of another prestigious club as she recently became the 13th member of the 1,000 points and 500 rebounds club. Atwell currently stands at 1,241 points and 554 rebounds. She is the first to reach the milestone since Ashleigh Karaitiana did it in 2016.