HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine basketball team will play UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The pairing was announced Monday afternoon during the NCAA's Selection Special broadcast on ESPN.
The team gathered at the Stan Sheriff to watch as a team as the selections were announced. After waiting through nearly the entire broadcast, the announcement that the Rainbow Wahine would be heading back to California to take on the Bruins was welcomed with plenty of excitement.
"They know a lot of the girls on UCLA's team," said head coach Laura Beeman. "They play travel ball with them, they are from the same areas in California so there's a lot of familiarity between these two teams. I think also the fact that we're in California is big for these guys. Their whole family can watch us play now. So I just think theres a lot of familiarity there.
One year after falling in the Big West Championship game, and failing to make the big dance, Beeman says this time around it's go big or go home.
"We're ready to play you know our intent is not to just be in this tournament, our intent is to be in this tournament and win this tournament. I know a lot of people that hear me say that and I think I'm crazy. That's okay, I've been called a lot worse." said Beeman.
"It's definitely a winnable game," said senior guard Ashleigh Karaitiana. "I know these girls are more confident than ever and I'm really proud of my team so yea, I'm ready to go, and we're looking forward to playing them and moving on through out the tournament."
Hawaii, announced as the #14 seed in the tournament, will play on Saturday against the Bruins, who open tournament play as the #3 seed. The game is at 12:30 HST on ESPN2.