ANAHEIM, CALIF. >> The Hawaii women’s basketball team was unable to overcome its Big West nemesis, falling 66-52 to Cal Poly in the conference semifinals at the Honda Center on Friday afternoon.
The return of senior forward Kamilah Jackson from a foot injury could not buoy the Rainbow Wahine (17-13) to a second tourney victory in three days. UH now awaits word if it will receive a second straight invitation to the WNIT.
Second-seeded Cal Poly (18-12) beat the third-seeded Wahine for the third time this season. This time, it was 6-5 center Molly Schlemer who did the bulk of the damage. Schlemer scored 21 of her 29 points in the second half. She shot 12-for-19 from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds, while guard Ariana Elegado added 20 points to help the Mustangs advance to face top-seeded Cal State Northridge in Saturday’s championship game.
“Tough game tonight,” coach Laura Beeman said in the postgame press conference. “I felt like the girls played incredibly hard. I felt like we left everything we had on the floor. Once again we had some really big droughts offensively. Had some foul trouble and some crazy lineups there (in the first half) and couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”
No Wahine player scored in double figures; Diane Moore, Sydney Haydel and Ashleigh Karaitiana had nine apiece. Jackson played 18 minutes off the bench, her first action in eight games. She went scoreless with a rebound and two assists.
Elegado hit Poly’s first 3-pointer of the game with 3:30 left for a 54-42 lead. Prior to that, the Mustangs were were 0-for-12 from long range.
Haydel hit a deep 2-pointer to cut Poly’s lead to 54-47 with 1:39 to play, but that was as close as it would get late.
Poly challenged UH to shoot over a 2-3 zone for most of the game, to successful effect. The Wahine were held to 31.1 percent shooting to 41.1 percent for Poly.
UH trimmed an 11-point first-half deficit to five when Moore hit two 3-pointers in the final 1:44 of the period, making it 24-19 at the break.