HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawai`i women's basketball team (5-3, 0-0 Big West) captured the 2013 Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown with a thrilling, 77-71 overtime win over Minnesota. Shawna-Lei Kuehu banked a 3-pointer off the glass at the buzzer to force overtime with the score tied at 66-66. In OT, the Rainbow Wahine pulled away, outscoring the Golden Gophers (7-2, 0-0 Big West), 11-5 for the win on Sunday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
It was the first tournament championship that the Rainbow Wahine have won since the 'Bows captured the 2004 Waikiki Beach Marriott Invitational when UH defeated BYU, 56-44. But, technically, the last official tourney championship UH won was in 2009 Waikiki Beach Marriott Showdown, but it was just a two-team tourney and Hawai'i defeated Kent State twice.
It also marked the first time UH has defeated a Big Ten opponent since they earned a 57-41 win over Ohio State on Dec. 14, 1998.
A trio of Rainbow Wahine scored in double-digits, led by Ashleigh Karaitiana, who tied her career-high with 22 points and hit a career-high four 3-pointers. She shot 7-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-5 from behind the arch with four made free throws. She also pulled down seven rebounds with an assist. Both Karaitiana and Kamilah Jackson played all 45 minutes of the game.
Kuehu also matched her career-high with 19 points including her amazing trey that forced overtime—it was her first 3-pointer made since the 2010-11 season when she sank three treys against Boise State on Feb. 2, 2011. Kuehu added six rebounds an assist and a block.
Jackson recorded her sixth-straight and 49th career double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Jackson helped lead the charge on the glass as the 'Bows out-rebounded the taller Golden Gophers, 37-34. She shot 6-of-10 from the field with a trey and was 5-of-7 from the charity stripe. Jackson has led UH in rebounds in every game thus far this season. She filled out her stat line with two assists and a steal.
The 'Bows came out of the gates with intensitiy, jumping out to an early 7-2 lead. But Minnesota came roaring back, scoring the next 15-straight points to go up, 16-9 with 13:53 left in the game. Hawai`i did not back down, but kept chipping their way back into the game. Diane Moore's 3-pointer with 2:01 left in the half brought the 'Bows all the way back, tying the game at 28-28. Minnesota's Kayla Hirt responded with a jumper to give them a two point lead with 1:37 left. UH's Jackson then hit one of two free throws with 26-seconds left and the game went into the half with Minnesota leading 30-29. Karaitiana led UH into halftime with 11 points and three 3-pointers while Jackson paced the 'Bows with seven rebounds.
In the second half, the game was tight with both teams trading baskets back-and-forth. Minnesota never could quite shake the 'Bows off as they kept pace with the Golden Gophers and never letting their deficit increase to over five points. The game was tied six times through regulation, with Minnesota in control from the 16-minute mark of the first half. With seven minutes left, UH finally caught Minnesota, tying the game on a Kuehu jumper in the lane to tie the game at 7:04. Minnesota's Hirt would answer right back hitting a jumper of her own to take the lead back, 61-59. Jackson then calmly sank two free throws to tie the game again at 61-61. Both teams traded two free throws and the game entered the final minute of action. Tournament Most Valuable Player Rachel Banham drilled a long, long range three to give the Golden Gophers a 66-63 lead with 4.6-seconds left. After a Hawai`i timeout, Destiny King inbounded the ball to Jackson who flipped it back to King. King raced upcourt, found Kuehu who took two dribbles before launching the bank shot to tie the game.
In overtime, Jackson hit a pair of layups and a free throw giving UH a 72-66 lead with 1:45 left but Minnesota got another Hirt jumper to go and Banham nailed another trey. It was not enough to catch the 'Bows as they sealed the win with Kuehu sinking 4-of-6 free throws and Karaitiana icing the game sinking two foul shots with one second left on the clock.
Hawai'i out-scored the Golden Gophers in the paint 24-to-24 and in points off of turnovers, 13-to-9. But Minnesota's reserves was able to score 16 to UH's bench's eight points.
Hawai'i will now hit the road for two roadtrips and will not play again in the friendly confines of the Stan Sheriff Center until 2014. Next up, UH will play at Oregon State (Dec. 13) and at Pacific (Dec. 15).
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