HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Pacific University women’s basketball team is in the midst of a historic season, tallying 34-straight victories after their 95-37 victory over Chaminade last week.
29 of those wins coming without the help of Utah State Transfer Olivia West, who joined the program in 2019, but had to red shirt during their undefeated season.
“I feel like I’ve been playing quite well,” West told Hawaii News Now. “Having a year, red shirting last year and being able to consistently practice with the team and learn the style of play and the way coach coaches and also play with the other girls for a year without being on the court really helped me to kind of just step straight into the role.”
The DI transfer who was supposed to suit up for the teal and grey in 2019, but when some of her Utah State credits didn’t carryover, the Australian was forced to watch the Sharks’ historic run from the bench, until COVID-19 abruptly ended their dream season.
“It was devastating for the entire team, we were obviously on a 29-game win streak and you know we were all kind of on a roll,” West said. “We felt like, we were hosting regionals for the first time in history and we felt like we had a good chance of winning.”
As the pandemic raged across the globe there was doubt that a 2020 season would even happen, but fast forward to December and West would make her HPU debut against the University of Hawaii — make some history along the way.
“I was quite nervous but also really exciting, I felt like I had a year of sitting out and it was finally my turn to get on the court and obviously it went as well as it could, we knocked off UH for the first time in history, which internally, it wasn’t a surprise for us.” West said. “We know how good we are and we know that we can stick with like a whole lot of DI′s and so obviously it was nice though to go out there and kind of show what were capable of and that were a force to be reckoned with, were not just mucking around in DII.”
Their historic win against the Wahine would catapult HPU into the regular season, currently one win away from 35 straight victories, looking to sweep the Hawaii pod for an automatic bit to the Division II regional Tournament.
The Aussie also leads the team averaging 20 points per game, adding to a winning culture that enticed the senior to make the trip across the pacific.
“I really wanted to go somewhere that had a winning culture and again the weather and the lifestyle out here after being in the snow for three years was definitely a positive that’s for sure.” West said. “I love being outdoors, so honestly like just the fact that we can finish practice and just go to the beach and jump in the water for 20 minutes, that is just the biggest blessing, not many other schools can do that.”
On the court, West and her teammates seem to be speaking the same language, but off the court the Hawaii newcomer is still working on her pidgin.
Its hard to understand and i think that’s the same with us when we talk, when I first moved to America I had to be really conscious, especially in Utah, with what words I was using because nobody understood what I was saying, I was like I’m speaking English what do you mean? And they were like, I don’t understand.” West said. “I kind of see that when people are speaking pigeon, its like I know they’re speaking English, but I still cant understand the slang, so i guess its quite similar.”