POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 28, 2010
Keisha Kanekoa simply wouldn't allow Hawaii to lose. Not this night.
Hawaii teammate Megan Tinnin broke the team career 3-point record, but Kanekoa had the real heroics in a 64-57 double-overtime victory against Ole Miss last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
How's this for unbelievable drama? Kanekoa's record-tying sixth 3-pointer with 5 seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime. Then her two free throws with 7 seconds left in OT -- following her two misses from the line moments earlier -- sent it to the second extra period.
"Wow," said Kanekoa, the senior who put in a career-high 25. "Pressure's on, this is what basketball players live for. That pressure, that moment. Either you come out to play, or you shut down. We did a good job, came out and played."
UH outplayed Ole Miss decisively in the second overtime, outscoring the exhausted Rebels 7-0.
UH (4-1) entered today's 6 p.m. Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown championship game against No. 14 North Carolina.
The Wahine are riding their best five-game start to a season since 2001-02.
Down by three, the Wahine twice forced turnovers on the Rebels in the final 20 seconds of regulation, and Kanekoa hit one from the top of the arc with about 5 seconds left -- on UH's third attempt to tie -- as the crowd of 1,002 went nuts.
The Rebels (4-2) openly questioned the officiating at the end. While there were definitely some eye-raising calls throughout, there was no questioning the game's excitement.
Great ball movement led to an 18-6 UH lead to start the game, as Kanekoa drilled her first three 3-pointers.
A 13-3 run on strong inside play got the Rebels right back in it. UH led 36-29 at halftime, but Ole Miss passed UH at 41-40 with 14 minutes left, and the teams battled evenly from there.
A team with no shortage of size, Ole Miss threw a healthy dose of zone defense at the Wahine. UH shredded the Rebels with 7-for-9 shooting on 3-pointers in the first half, but seriously cooled off and finished 9-for-23.
Tinnin, a senior guard, tied Nani Cockett's record 128 3-pointers with 14:30 left in the first half. She passed it with her third trey of the game shortly afterward, and during a timeout her feat was announced to the crowd. She was presented with a game ball and treated to a round of applause.
"It felt good," Tinnin said. "Now I don't have to worry about it anymore."
North Carolina doled out an 87-58 beating of Illinois in the other semifinal.
HAWAII 64, MISSISSIPPI 57
Rainbow Wahine (4-1)
Key -- fg-a: field goals made-attempted; ft-a: free throws made-attempted; rb: rebounds; pf: personal fouls; pts: total points; a: assists; to: turnovers; min: minutes played.
Halftime -- Hawaii 36, Mississippi 29
3-point goals -- Mississippi 5-23 (McFarland 3-14, Nelson 2-8, Melson 0-1), Hawaii 9-23 (Kanekoa 6-11, Tinnin 3-7, Ayabe 0-1, Kuehu 0-2, Bungaite 0-2).
Steals -- Mississippi 8 (Melson 2, Byrd 2, Nelson, McFarland, Hope, Marbra), Hawaii 7 (Tinnin 3, Kanekoa 2, Arbuckle, Kuehu). Blocked shots -- Mississippi 4 (Hope 2, Byrd, Marbra), Hawaii 2 (Arbuckle, Kuehu). Officials -- Carla Fujimoto, Todd Apo, Mike Ishikawa. A-- 1,002.