POSTED: 05:00 p.m. HST, Mar 13, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 09:21 p.m. HST, Mar 13, 2013
IRVINE, Calif. » Even in a new setting as the favorite, conference tournament futility continued unabated for the Hawaii women's basketball team.
The third-seeded Rainbow Wahine crumbled in their first Big West tournament game since rejoining the league last summer, falling 66-51 to No. 8 Cal State Fullerton in a second-round contest today at UC Irvine's Bren Events Center.
UH (17-13) defeated the Titans 53-43 in Honolulu just four days ago. But CSUF capitalized on shaky ball control by the Wahine to advance to Friday's semifinal against top-seeded Pacific.
"I want to congratulate Cal State Fullerton," first-year UH coach Laura Beeman said. "They played with unbelievable purpose tonight and came in with a great game plan.
"The lights were a little bright for us this early on in kind of rebuilding this team. Very proud of the girls."
The Rainbow Wahine now await word if an invitation will be forthcoming to a secondary postseason tournament, such as the WNIT or WBI.
"We'll see what happens," UH athletic director Ben Jay said.
Beeman said: "Fingers crossed."
The Wahine haven't advanced to a conference semifinal since the 2002-03 season. They last won a preliminary-round game in 2009.
Fullerton (11-21) had 17 steals among 22 Hawaii turnovers, resulting in a 25-10 disparity on points off giveaways. It was the Titans' second upset in two days; they beat No. 5 Long Beach State on Tuesday.
Before a very pro-Hawaii crowd of about 700 — which included the UH band, cheerleaders and Rainbow Dancers — junior forward Kamilah Martin led the Wahine with 15 points and 13 rebounds for her 14th double-double of the season.
Titans forward Mya Olivier scored a game-high 17 points. Guard Chante Miles added 13 points and seven steals for CSUF.
With the game tied at 36, Fullerton seized control with a 14-2 run to go up its largest to that point at 50-38 with seven minutes remaining.
UH got back to within seven on a basket by Shawna Kuehu, but that was as close as it would get.
The Wahine trailed by eight points in the first half but closed the period on a 9-1 run to tie it up at 25 heading into the break.