(Hawaii Athletics) - The University of Hawai'i women's basketball team snapped its six-game road losing streak against Big West Conference opponents, with a 56-54 nail-biting victory over CSUN on Thursday night at the Matadome.
The Rainbow Wahine (11-15, 4-9 Big West) rode the momentum set by junior forward Lahni Salanoa and senior guard Sarah Toeaina, picking up their first conference road win of the season. The Matadors (14-14, 7-7 Big West) have lost four of their last five contests and had their four-game home winning streak come to an end.
"The team stayed composed and fought all night long," said head coach Laura Beeman. "Lahni (Salanoa) hit big shots, and Sarah (Toeaina) slashed to the basket to either score or find teammates, and our freshman front-court grew up tonight. Tonight was a great team win."
Salanoa went on a tear with just under two minutes left to play in the second quarter and the opening minute of the third quarter. She scored 12 consecutive points, all three-point baskets, for a 12-0 UH run. The stretch took UH from a 24-18 deficit to a 30-24 lead at the 9: 04-minute mark of the third period.
CSUN answered later in the quarter retaking the lead at 42-41, but it was short-lived. The 'Bows went on an 8-0 run, ending with a three-point basket by sophomore forward Makenna Woodfolk for a 48-42 advantage. The Matadors inched closer for an eventual tie at 52-52 with over three minutes to play. Salanoa answered again from long distance by hitting her career-high fifth three-pointer for a team-high 19 points and a 55-52 lead.
The home squad had their chances in the closing moments pulling within one at 55-54, but a stingy UH defense kept them in check. The most important defensive stand came in the last 10 seconds as the reigning BWC Player of the Year, Channon Fluker, missed a contested three-point shot, as Toeaina pulled down the defensive rebound, drawing the foul, leading to an out of bounds possession. UH drew a foul with two seconds on the clock putting junior guard Tia Kanoa at the line, hitting one of two from the stripe, ending the night with a 56-54 win.
Salanoa matched her career-high in points dating back Dec. 4, 2017, when she scored 19 against Montana State. The Oxford, California native shot 7-of-10 from the floor and 5-for-8 from beyond the arc.
Toeaina collected her first double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds while adding four assists to her stat line. Kanoa continues to be the trendsetter for assists in the conference with a game-high eight dimes, giving her a conference-high 125 on the year. She has recorded seven or more assists in three of her last four games.
The Rainbow Wahine will finish off the road portion of their regular season schedule with a stop at Long Beach State University on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. HT inside the Walter Pyramid.