(HAWAII ATHLETICS) – The University of Hawai'i women's basketball team broke free from a see-saw battle late in Saturday's final non-conference contest, outscoring Hawai'i Pacific 37-31 in the second half for the 10-point win to close out 2017 at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Sharks (8-2) battled back from an 11-point Hawai'i lead near the mid-point of the third quarter, as HPU launched an 8-0 run over a two-minute stretch to keep things close deep into the second half. However, a pair of free throws by senior guard Sarah Toeaina with 1:54 to go in the third proved to be a turning point for the Rainbow Wahine (7-6), as UH scored seven unanswered points to take command into the final quarter.
The Rainbow Wahine built their lead to as many as 14 after a scoring slump left them at 58 points in the final period, but tough defense won the day down the stretch for UH, securing the 67-57 win over the cross-town Sharks.
Hawai'i went into halftime with a 30-26 lead over HPU, in a first half fraught with big momentum swings and a stretch of five lead changes in just over three minutes of the second quarter. However, Lahni Salanoaburied a three and Tia Kanoa pulled up for a jumper at the elbow to push the momentum back into UH's favor for good.
A force for the Rainbow Wahine all night, Toeaina paced UH with 15 points on 60 percent shooting, while adding six rebounds, recording her fifth double-digit scoring performance in the last six games.
Sophomore guard Julissa Tago was a key component for UH early, finishing the night with 10 points for her second-straight double-figure game, while Salanoa came up just short of a double-double, collecting nine rebounds to go with her 10 points.
With the HPU win in the books, the Rainbow Wahine now turn their attention to 2018 and the beginning of Big West Conference play. Hawai'i will open the New Year on the road at Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 4, completing the two-game road swing at UC Davis on Jan. 6.