FULLERTON, Calif.-The University of Hawai'i women's basketball team won their ninth straight game and kept hold of their first place standing in the Big West with a 54-43 win over Cal State Fullerton. The Rainbow Wahine defense stifled the Titans, holding them to 17 points below their season average and to just one made 3-point shot in the game-6.6 treys below their team season average. Hawai'i improves to 17-7 overall and 9-2 in conference while the Titans fall to 9-14 overall and 3-7 in the Big West.
Hawai'i remains atop the Big West standings in first place by a game-and-a-half over UC Davis (7-3) who was idle on Saturday. Long Beach State fell to Cal Poly in overtime, 58-57 at the Pyramid. Both teams are now tied for third at 7-4. CSUN knocked off UC Santa Barbara, 60-21 to improve to 7-5 for fifth place. The nine game win streak for UH is the longest during head coach Laura Beeman's tenure and the longest since Vince Goo's Rainbow Wahine won 19-straight in the 1997-98 season in Nani Cockett's senior season. It is the best conference start since UH started the 2000-01 Western Athletic Conference at 10-2 under Goo.
Senior Shawna-Lei Kuehu came off the bench to lead the Rainbow Wahine with team-highs of 17 points, six rebounds and four steals. She was an efficient 6-of-9 shooting from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line. All five free throws came in the last seven minutes of the game. 15 of her 17 points came in the second half as she spurred the 'Bows on to the win. Ashleigh Karaitiana chipped in with nine points and Shawlina Segovia added seven points. Connie Morris blocked four shots for a career-high.
Hawai'i committed just nine turnovers in the game, while forcing CSF to 15 miscues which led directly to 18 UH points. Hawai'i's bench outscored the Titans' reserves, 26-to-2, but CSF edged out UH in points in the paint (22-to-20); second-chance points (14-to-4) and in overall rebounds, 42-to-36.
In the first half, the two teams kept things close to start. But then Hawai'i went on a 17-to-5 run to close the half. UH's defense did not allow the Titans to score a field goal for over eight minutes beginning with 11:13 left on the clock. Cal State Fullerton's Chante Miles broke the streak, hitting a 3-pointer with 2:53 left on the clock. Other than Miles, the Titans shot 2-of-13 from the floor. Both teams finished the half with 19 rebounds apiece.
In the second half, UH built a 13 point lead for a 36-23 lead with 14:47 left on a Megan Huff jumper. The Titans, however, would fight back with a 9-to-0 run of their own that cut UH's lead down to four points with 9:41 left in the game, 36-32. That's as close as Cal State Fullerton would get because that's when Kuehu took things over for the final nine minutes during which time she scored 13 of UH's final 16 points down the stretch. She also recorded two rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot during that span.
The Titans were led by Chante Miles' 21 points while Kathleen Iwuoha recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
For Hawai'I, it was the first time that UH has won at Titan Gym since rejoining the Big West for the 2012-13 season. Hawai'i is now 15-15 vs. the Titans-7-5 at home; 8-8 on the road; and 0-2 at a neutral site.
Hawai'i returns to the Stan Sheriff Center to host two games. First up is UC Irvine (5-20, 2-8 Big West) on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 7:00 p.m. and UC Davis (12-10, 7-3 Big West) on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 5:00 p.m.