HONOLULU - The University of Hawai'i women's basketball team took a stranglehold of the Big West Conference lead following a thrilling 62-60 victory over UC Davis, Saturday in a match-up between the league's top two teams at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The victory also extended UH's win streak to 11 games and gave the Rainbow Wahine (19-7, 11-2 BWC) a two and a half game cushion on the second place Aggies (13-11, 8-4) with two weeks left in the regular season. Hawai'i, which has three Big West games remaining, now has 19 wins, the most since the 2001-02 squad won 23 games.
After UH's Briana Harris missed a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left, Sydnee Fipps' potential game-tying fall-away jumper rimmed out just before the final buzzer, ending a rollercoaster game that featured nine ties and 11 lead changes.
Ashleigh Karaitiana's 3-pointer from the right corner gave UH a 60-56 lead with 1:28 left and Shawna-Lei Kuehu's two free throws with 30 seconds left put UH ahead 62-57. But on UCD's ensuing possession, Alyson Doherty converted a three-point play trimming the deficit to two. The Aggies fouled Harris, whose two free throws rimmed out, setting up UCD's final possession.
Kuehu led the 'Bows with 12 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists. The senior also had two steals and one block in her second-to-last regular season game at the Stan Sheriff Center. Karaitiana finished with 11 points, including that critical three-ball in the closing minutes while Megan Huff added 11 points and three steals.
The Rainbow Wahine also received valuable production from freshman Dalayna Sampton, who finished with five points and a career-best seven rebounds in only 13 minutes of action. Sampton and Huff helped the Rainbow Wahine out-rebound the Aggies 46-to-31.
Fipps finished with a game-high 20 points for the Aggies, who also got 14 points from Doherty.
UCD opened the game on a 12-0 run and the Rainbow Wahine didn't get on the scoreboard until Destiny King's jumper ended the drought nearly five minutes in. UH slowly chipped away and Sarah Toeaina's lay-up capped an 11-0 run to pull the 'Bows to within 16-15.
The Aggies maintained their lead until Kuehu's lay-up tied it at 25 and Huff's muscle jumper gave the Rainbow Wahine their first lead. UH closed out the half on a 13-4 run to take a 29-27 lead at the half.
Hawai'i will next play at Long Beach State, Thursday, Feb. 26 at The Pyramid.