Rainbow Wahine basketball team runs past UC-Riverside
UH is 9-7 this season
HONOLULU-The University of Hawai'i women's basketball team pulled away to earn their first conference win of the season by defeating UC Riverside, 69-58 in UH's Big West Conference home opener on Saturday night. Destiny King scored a career-high 17 points while Ashleigh Karaitiana added 15. Shawna-Lei Kuehu returned to the court after missing the last two games to tally 11 points from off the bench. Hawai'i improved their overall record to 9-7 and conference record to 1-2. UC Riverside fell to 10-8 overall and 1-3 in the Big West.
King not only had a career-night on offense, but she recorded a career-high with six steals and 39 minutes played. She finished the game just one rebound shy of a double-double while also dishing out four assists and a block. King was 8-of-19 from the floor and 1-of -2 from the free throw line.
Karaitiana scored just two points in the first half, but was clutch in the second half, draining three timely 3-pointers that helped lift UH to the win. She was 5-of-9 in field goals and she too finished just one board shy of a double-double. Karaitiana was tied with King with a game-high four assists.
Kuehu had a gutsy performance, coming off the bench for the first time this season in her first game back after missing both of last week's road games. She was a perfect 4-for-4 in field goals while going 3-for-5 from the free throw line. She grabbed five rebounds with two assists and a steal in just 18 minutes of action.
The 'Bows got off to a slow start in the first half, but they kicked into gear after the first media timeout, going on a 11-0 run on 5-of-6 shooting from the field to take an 18-8 lead with 11:05 left in the half. The Highlanders, however soon started a mini 5-to-0 run to close the gap and stayed close down the stretch. UH took a 30-26 lead over UCR into halftime. King led the 'Bows in the first half, scoring 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
In the second half, Hawai'i maintained their lead until almost halfway through the period. But with 12:22 left in the game, UC Riverside mounted an 11-to-1 run capped by a 3-pointer made by Brittany Crain to overtake the 'Bows, 47-44 with 10:17 left on the clock. The 'Bows battled right back, getting a jumper from Briana Harris followed by a key trey hit by Karaitiana which allowed UH to see-saw back into the lead, 49-47 with 8:17 left. Later with 7:00 left, Crain hit another trey to give UCR a 52-51 lead, but UH's King responded with a jumper that allowed the 'Bows to retake the lead, 53-52. Hawai'i's offense then started clicking and went into overdrive and never looked back, going on an 11-to-1 run that helped put the game away.
Hawai`i held the nation's No. 4 scoring machine, Crain to 18 points with four treys on 5-of-20 shooting after she opened the conference season with a pair of 30-plus point games against UC Davis and UC Irvine. UH outrebounded UC Riverside, 49-to-30 with 18 offensive boards. Overall, defensively the 'Bows held the Highlanders to almost 12 points below their season average and to just a 25.9 field goal percentage in the first half. Hawai'i outscored UCR in the paint 28-to-16 and in bench scoring 22-to-4.
The Rainbow Wahine hit the road to face UC Davis on Jan. 22 and UC Irvine on Jan. 24.