(Hawaii Athletics) - The University of Hawai‘i women’s basketball team (10-14, 3-8 Big West) snapped a two-game skid and delivered the 100th win for head coach Laura Beeman on Thursday night at the Stan Sheriff Center, pulling away late to defeat Cal State Fullerton (7-15, 2-7 Big West), 59-54.
While it was senior guard Sarah Toeaina’s seventh 20-point scoring performance that demanded the most attention on the stat sheet, it was the small positive efforts by several players that led to the win for the Rainbow Wahine. The most crucial plays came in the final 1:35, as junior Lahni Salanoa went down the lane to pull UH ahead in the game’s 17th lead change, then followed 24 seconds later with an up-and-under layup after sophomore Makenna Woodfolk snatched a steal from the Titans. Those two plays would ultimately define the finish, as UH scored eight unanswered points to give the Rainbow Wahine breathing room for the 59-54 win.
After the Rainbow Wahine were able to build a quickly-evaporating seven-point lead in the first quarter, the teams traded scores for the next 32 minutes; neither gaining more than a two-possession advantage until the Rainbow Wahine made their final run.
Making things tough for the Rainbow Wahine, Titans’ guard Hannah Thompson scored the first 15 of her 16 points via long-range shots. However, as Beeman switched the defense make her Toeaina’s charge in the second half, Thompson was virtually neutralized in the third and fourth quarters.
Another key play provided the Rainbow Wahine with momentum as the first half wound down. Trailing by three points, Tia Kanoa’s pull-up jumper sliced the deficit and Woodfolk capitalized, knocking loose a steal and running the floor for a buzzer-beating layup for the 29-28 halftime advantage.
Woodfolk did plenty of the little things to help UH come out on top, tying her career high with three blocks and two steals, while scoring 10 with seven rebounds. Kanoa’s only score was crucial, but she also doled out seven assists. Salanoa registered 10 points, seven in the final half.
Toeaina went on to score 21 and lead all scorers, but also grabbed eight rebounds, made two assists, grabbed one steal and blocked a shot.
For the first time in 11 Big West games, the Rainbow Wahine have a BYE week, coming back to the court at the Stan Sheriff next Saturday to face league-leading UC Davis (19-4, 9-1 BWC) during UH’s Patsy Mink Recognition game.