Lethal weapons: Rainbow Wahine basketball's trio of scorers elevate team's offense

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Defense may win championships, but a potent offense can win games.

In the early stages of their 2017-2018 campaign, the Rainbow Wahine basketball team has leaned on its shooters to wear down the opposition.

With a 5-3 record through the team's first eight games of the season, the results have paid off. The Wahine average 68.2 points per game this season, most recently dropping 81 points on Montana State earlier this week.

That's the highest scoring average the program has averaged in head coach Laura Beeman's tenure as head coach. And it's no wonder that Beeman said that this is the best offense she's been around since arriving to Manoa back in 2012.

"It's hard to scout us I think," Beeman said. "What you want to do is put all those pieces together. And get your best basketball every night you step out and play. You're not going to get that this early, but I think it's very difficult to count us because every time somebody comes in, we have something different that we can run for that particular person where they can find their shot in the offense."

Beeman went on to say how the likes of Makenna Woodfolk, Tia Kanoa and Amy Atwell are all able to take over the load on offense. But unlike past seasons for the Wahine, which featured predominantly one or two scoring options, this season's edition has three players that are capable of dropping 20 points or more on any given night.

This past Monday night at the Stan Sheriff Center, Sarah Toeaina, Julissa Tago and Lahni Salanoa combined for 65 points. Toeaina (25 points) led the way for the Wahine on 10-of-12 shooting while Tago (21 points) did her damage from the perimeter, shooting 50 percent from deep.

Salanoa (19 points) would've easily scored 20-plus points had it not been for an ankle injury in the fourth quarter, but she also shot well from deep going 4-of-6 from three.

"We have a lot of weapons. And it's kind of scary," Tago said. "We all haven't had a good game in one game, so that's the scary part. And I'm excited just to move forward …"

On the season, Toeaina, Tago and Salanoa are each averaging at least 10.6 points per game and shooting at least 49.2 percent from the floor.

Having weapons around her this season has been especially beneficial for Toeaina. Being able to run Beeman's offense without pressing the issue late in the shot clock to put up a shot from deep or a contested layup has made Toeaina a more patient and efficient scorer.

She is currently shooting a career-high 55.4 percent from the field -- a significant improvement from last season's 42.4 clip -- and has stayed away from taking bad shots, as evident from her zero attempts from beyond the arc through eight games.

"It's fun. The coaches don't put any pressure on any one of us at any given time," Toeaina said. "To just play within the offense and feel (Tago) hit a big three and knowing that you don't have to always pound it yourself is relieving."

The Wahine will look to keep running up the scoreboard tomorrow night as they take on Idaho State at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. HT.

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