Rainbow Wahine hoops team loses to CSUN in Big West title game
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Searching for its first NCAA berth since 1998, the University of Hawai'i women's basketball team came up short in a 67-60 loss to CSUN in the final of the Big West Conference Tournament on Saturday afternoon at the Honda Center.
Shawna-Lei Kuehu, who earned all-tournament honors, tied a career-high with four blocks and the 'Bows (23-8) as a team had a season best four blocks, fourth most in tournament history, but it was the quickness of the Matadors and UH's inability to finish at the hoop that proved to be the difference. The loss snaps a 15 game winning streak for the 'Bows.
Megan Huff had a dominant game off the bench, posting career highs of 16 points and 14 rebounds and Destiny King had 13 points and eight rebounds while also earning a selection to the all-tournament team.
Ashlee Guay, the tournament's MVP, led the Matadors with 22 points while Janae Sharpe added 20 points.
It was a battle of wills early as both teams flexed their defensive muscle. The 'Bows owned the paint defensively with King and Kuehu recording a pair of blocks. Kuehu continued to make life difficult for the Matadors, posting two blocks on the same possession as UH continued to lead.
CSUN regained the lead when Emily Cole drained a straight away three pointer to give the Matadors a 17-14 lead with 7:39 to play in the half. Huff's jumper cut the lead to one point but CSUN would own the rest of the half, going on an 8-2 run in the final 4:39 to take a 27-20 lead into the break.
The 'Bows rallied on several occasions in the second half but ultimately could not get over the hump. Huff's layup cut the CSUN lead to 36-33 but Sharpe responded with a three-pointer to give her team its largest lead of the game at 41-33. Shawlina Segovia (6 pts, 6 reb) hit a pair of free throws to again cut the lead to three points midway through the period, but timely buckets down the stretch by CSUN helped keep the 'Bows at bay.
Hawai'i will now await its post-season fate having qualified for post-season play for the third consecutive year. The Rainbow Wahine are guaranteed a spot in the Women's National Invitation Tournament if they do not earn an at-large berth in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.