PHOENIX, ARIZONA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawai'i women's basketball made its official season debut with a statement-making 74-41 victory over Grand Canyon University on Friday afternoon at the Grand Canyon University Arena. UH opens with a 1-0, 0-0 Big West record with what was its' largest margin of victory in a season-opener since the 1997-'98 season (83-45 vs. St. Bonaventure).
In a full team effort, UH overwhelmed the Antelopes clear across the board, shooting at 42% FG's, 38% 3-pt FG's, 88% at the freethrow line, with 10 Rainbow Wahine contributing points towards the win. The 'Bows were able to keep GCU at a distance throughout with their trademark defense, out-rebounding them 47-33 and taking 15-points off of forced turnovers.
Sophomore Sarah Toeaina (6-8 FGs, 1-1 3-pt FGs, 1-1 FTs) led the Rainbow Wahine with a career-high and game-high 14-points, three rebounds and three steals. Sophomore center Megan Huff also posted double-digit figures with 12-points and reached for a game-best eight rebounds. Over half of UH's points (48) came from off the bench, including both Toeaina and Huff.
UH broke away from GCU nearly midway through the opening quarter with back-to-back treys by Briana Harris (eight pts, three assists) and Toeaina. The 'Lopes quickly responded with a 4-0 scoring run, but it soon became their last gleam of hope when Ashleigh Karaitiana (five points, five assists) sunk in another three, igniting a 14-3 scoring run for a 24-11 lead going into the second period.
Midway through the next quarter, both teams ran into a scoring drought. After Brianna Kennedy laid in the first two-points of her UH career with 4:10 on the clock, neither the 'Bows or the Antelopes were able to find the net. However, UH's impenetrable defense kept GCU at bay, finishing the first half with 22 rebounds, two steals, and a 39-21 advantage.
Toeina instantly broke the silence out of halftime intermission, scoring within the first 15-seconds of the third. From there, UH fostered an eight-point run and never looked back. The 'Bows cracked open GCU's clean defense, drawing 14 fouls on the 'Lopes, putting two of their starters in foul trouble. UH led by as many as 41-points in the final quarter when freshman Leah Salanoa (nine points, three rebounds), who shot 4-4 at the free throw line, dropped in back-to-back frees with 3:51 on the clock.
Freshman Olivia Crawford also made her collegiate debut with four points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal. GCU's Zelor Massaquoi led the Antelopes with six points, five rebounds and one assist.
Next, UH will face Northern Arizona on Nov. 15 at 2:00 p.m. MST (11:00 a.m. HT) in Flagstaff, Ariz. before returning home to host the Bank of Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine Classic, Nov. 20-22.
Hawaii Athletics Release