(Hawaii Athletics) - The University of Hawai‘i women’s basketball team (7-7, 0-1 Big West) battled back from three double-digit deficits Thursday at Titan Gym, but couldn’t make a fourth run as Cal State Fullerton (6-8, 1-0 Big West) dealt the Rainbow Wahine a road loss in their Big West opener.
The Titans came out with the hot hand on Thursday, starting the conference opener with a seven-point scoring run in the first quarter, growing the lead to as large as 14-4 before UH hit the boards hard and got the offense on track.
Trailing 25-16 in the second quarter after shooting just 33 percent in the first period, senior guard Sarah Toeaina’s free throws sparked the Rainbow Wahine to a 9-2 run over a two-minute stretch, trimming the deficit to just a pair. However, the Titans pushed back and carried a six-point advantage into the half.
CSF’s lead was driven by 5-for-9 first-half shooting beyond the arc, but the Titans’ long-range shooting was stifled in the second half, providing an opportunity for the Rainbow Wahine.
Hawai‘i finally gained the upper hand in the third quarter but came up shy of knotting the score on five chances in the third, after a paint jumper by Lauren Rewers sliced the Titan lead to just a pair with 5:29 to go. The Rainbow Wahine held the difference at a single possession for 3:43 of the third but never drew closer than two points.
Although UH is a battle-tested fourth-quarter team this season, it was Titans who turned it on in the final 10 minutes, opening the fourth on an 11-1 run and holding UH without a field goal until the four-minute mark. CSF kept pace and outscored UH 21-11 in the fourth to pull away for the 69-57 Big West win, snapping a seven-game UH streak in the series.
Notching her fourth 20-point scoring performance of the year, Toeaina paced all scorers with 23 points, tying for the team high with six rebounds. Also grabbing six boards, sophomore guard Julissa Tago scored 11 with a career-high eight assists. Junior point guard Tia Kanoa also added 11 points.
The year-opening road swing continues for the Rainbow Wahine on Saturday at UC Davis at The Pavilion. The league-leading Aggies (11-3, 1-0 BWC) defeated UC Irvine on Thursday, 76-67.