HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Losses sting. The bitterness of them, especially those incurred on the sport's grandest stage, often lingers. But when it wears off, as it will eventually for this year's Rainbow Wahine basketball team, they'll find themselves with plenty to be proud of following their 2015-2016 campaign.
For the first time in 18 years, the Rainbow Wahine participated in the NCAA tournament. For the first time in head coach Laura Beeman's young career at Hawaii, her squad won the Big West Tournament. Both, Beeman says, are accomplishments that were more than memorable.
"It's been amazing. It's been an amazing ride," Beeman told Hawaii News Now after Saturday's 66-50 loss to UCLA in Los Angeles. "I want to do it again."
Like basketball games themselves, the magic of this season will be impossible for Beeman to duplicate. Her team won the Big West thanks in large part to her senior class, the first freshman-to-graduation group she's mentored since taking the job in Manoa, and one led by her very first recruit, in Destiny King.
Their contributions -- those of King, and sixth-year senior Ashleigh Karaitiana, and the rest of the class -- both to this year's team and to the program itself, were acknowledged after the game.
"I told them I was proud of how they've represented the University, proud of how they always represent the state of Hawaii," said Beeman. "They wear the name on the chest with great responsibility. It means something to them when they see 'Hawaii' on the scoreboard."
On this night, for this team, it meant disappointment, not in seeing their school name on the scoreboard but rather the number next to it, and how it compared to the one next to UCLA's. Though their stated goal all season was to win the Big West title, Beeman quickly shot down any notion that simply having appeared in the NCAA tournament was enough for this group.
"You come to a tournament like this to win, and we didn't win," said Beeman. "We didn't come here to be happy and satisfied. There are a lot of sad young women in that locker room. We represent more than just our school, we represent our state."
Judging by the overwhelmingly positive response to the team's effort on social media -- which Beeman admitted made Saturday's loss easier to swallow, if only just a little -- you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who thought the Rainbow Wahine did a poor job of it. Most, including Beeman herself, are already looking forward to the Wahine's next opportunity to do so.
"I want to take another group of young women back," Beeman said. "To represent Hawaii and say, 'You know, we may be in the middle of nowhere, but you better not overlook us, because as a state, we are something to be reckoned with.' And it's just very exciting to be a part of that."