Northridge, Calif.—The University of Hawai’i women’s basketball team officially secured the No. 2 spot in the Big West Conference standings, earning a double-bye in the conference tournament, after defeating CSUN 69-68 on Saturday afternoon at the Matadome.
With the Rainbow Wahine (14-15, 10-6) leading 67-60 and 4:50 on the clock, the Matadors (16-14, 10-6) put together an 8-2 run to pull within one at 69-68 with 00:47 left in regulation. Following a missed three-point attempt by the ‘Bows, CSUN had the ball, calling a timeout with 15 seconds to play. After inbounding the ball on their side the floor, CSUN drove the paint but sophomore guard Jadynn Alexander poked the ball away causing a loose ball to land with the reigning two-time Big West Conference Player of the Year, Channon Fluker. As time ticked away, Fluker pulled from beyond the three-point arc at the top of the key over a double team of senior guard Tia Kanoa and sophomore center Lauren Rewers. Her attempt hit the backboard, and the front of the iron, then fell to the floor as time expired, helping UH escape with the win.
“We’re extremely proud of this team and what they’ve accomplished,” said head coach Laura Beeman. “We had a goal of winning three straight games to put ourselves in this position, then to go out and do it is remarkable. As a staff, we’re incredibly proud of what they’ve been able to do.”
For the second game in a row, neither team held a lead of over 10 points, but on Saturday, UH controlled the pace of the game, gaining the scoring edge in the first quarter, and didn’t trail for the rest of the afternoon.
Sophomore forward Amy Atwell led the ‘Bows offense with 18 points, hitting 4-of-6 from three-point land, and pulled down six rebounds. Rewers played a season-high 34 minutes with contributions on the offensive and defensive sides of the floor. She fell one rebound side of a double-double, finishing with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds while swatting four blocks.
“Both Lauren (Rewers) and Amy (Atwell) were the catalysts for us today,” said Beeman. “Their offensive numbers were significant as both of them have built up their confidence, but what they did for us defensively was equally as important.”
Kanoa flirted with history as she entered the fourth frame with nine assists, just three shy of the single-game record of 12, a record she holds with Tricia Stringham (1992). Kanoa ended her day with a team-high 10 assists while committing just one turnover, along with adding four points and three rebounds to her stat line.
Senior guard Leah Salanoa added 16 points of her own as she went 4-of-5 from three, giving her 103 made three-point field goals for her career, passing Brianna Harris for No. 8 all-time at UH.
As a team, the ‘Bows limited their turnovers and were successful at the free throw line. For the second time in the last three games UH kept the turnovers to single-digits of eight on Saturday. At the charity stripe, they returned to form hitting 10-of-11 for 91 percent.
UH ended the season on a three-game win streak earning double-digit wins against conference foes for the first time the since the 2015-16 season. Also, with the exception to No. 1 UC Davis, the ‘Bows were the only team in the Big West to not be swept by a conference opponent, a feat the program hasn’t accomplished since the 2014-15 campaign.
The Bows will now play the waiting game as to who they will play in the conference tournament. Due to being in the No. 2 position, UH has solidified a spot in the tournament semifinals, set for Friday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California at 11:30 a.m. HT (2:30 p.m. PT). Every game of the tournament will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and on the radio with ESPN 1420 am in Honolulu.