(Hawaii Athletics) - A heartbreaking last-second loss befell the University of Hawai'i women's basketball team (9-13, 2-7 Big West) on Thursday, as Cal Poly (12-8, 6-2 Big West) upended a fourth-quarter Rainbow Wahine lead to deal UH a 52-50 loss.
Locked in a tug-of-war that saw the lead change hands eight times with six ties, it was Lynn Leaupepe's three-point play with 38 seconds remaining that proved to be the killstroke in the 'Bows loss to the Mustangs. Her jumper tied the contest for the final time and the free throw overrode Hawai'i's heavy fourth-quarter control.
After a hot start to the fourth quarter, the Rainbow Wahine led by as many as seven, but a scoring drought in the final 1:04 ultimately did UH in as Sarah Toeaina was charged with an offensive foul with 4.5 seconds remaining and Tia Kanoa's last-second shot was off the mark, sending the 52-50 loss final.
It was a slow-scoring first half to get things started, but the 'Bows never let the Mustangs get out of reach, going on to take charge for the majority of the second quarter. However, the first half closed like the second, with Leaupepe's twin sister, Dynn, hitting a jumper to pull ahead, while Lynn's free throw made it 22-20 at the break.
The Mustangs came with a scoring flurry out of halftime, with drive-and-dish plays setting up Devin Stanbeck for back-to-back scores for a six-point advantage. With time winding down in the third, Hawai'i made its push, as Toeaina knocked down a pair of free throws to knot the score at 34-all, nudging ahead on Toeaina's pull-up jumper off Makenna Woodfolk's assist, leading to the seven-point advantage.
Down the stretch, it was Mary Kate Evans' three-pointer that broke the UH stranglehold, as Dynn Leaupepe scored on three consecutive possessions to bring the game into tight contention in the final three minutes.
A slow starter, Toeaina finished with a team-high 13 points and five rebounds, notching her seventh consecutive double-digit scoring performance. A clutch component in UH's rallies, Tago scored 11 and collected five boards of her own. Woodfolk and Leah Salanoa topped the Rainbow Wahine with eight rebounds apiece.
The Rainbow Wahine remain on the road and look to snap a five-game losing skid away from home on Saturday, as they travel to face UC Santa Barbara at the Campus Events Center. The Gauchos (7-13, 4-4 Big West) were offensively stunted in a 48-30 loss to CSUN on Wednesday.