POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 24, 2011
Win and you're in. Well, almost.
The Hawaii women's basketball team can all but punch its Western Athletic Conference tournament tickets by knocking off lowly San Jose State tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center.
UH's three-game homestand to close the regular season is of front-loaded importance. Dana Takahara-Dias' seventh-place Rainbow Wahine (9-17, 3-10 WAC) can simultaneously avenge a painful 53-43 loss in San Jose, Calif., last month and make the road to Las Vegas that much tougher for the Spartans.
WAC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL» Who: San Jose State (2-23, 2-10 WAC) at Hawaii (9-17, 3-10)
» When: Today, 5 p.m.
» Where: Stan Sheriff Center
» TV: KFVE, Ch. 5
» Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
"We don't want it to go to a tiebreaker. We want to be able to win it outright by getting some wins under our belt and get some momentum going into the WAC tournament," Takahara-Dias said yesterday. "It also serves as a more meaningful game, because we did not do so well at San Jose the first time around. We really would like to redeem ourselves and put a better game together."
The UH loss at SJSU was one of just two wins all season for the Spartans (2-23 overall), who are physical enough to bother better opponents. UH made only 13 field goals and shot 28.3 percent from the field against the Spartans.
But the Wahine are convinced they are a different team after winning three of five games in the second half of WAC play, including one on the road.
"I still feel like we're a better team, and matchup-wise, we have so many talented people on this team," senior point guard Keisha Kanekoa said. "If we just learn to play together, then I think we'll be fine. We should get this win tonight if we play the way we've been playing for the second round of WAC."
A UH victory would put pressure on SJSU and BSU to win all or most of their final regular-season games. If either of them cannot, one of those two teams will be left home from the WAC tournament.
"That's why it's really important," senior shooting guard Megan Tinnin said. "Finally, coming back from the road, these games are really crucial, because I think if we start winning a couple now, it'll carry on into the tournament, and that's what we need right now."
Freshman forward Kamilah Jackson continues to lead UH in both scoring (11.8) and rebounding (11.8). She is fifth in the country in boards per game.
UH may be without starting wing Shawna Kuehu, who did not practice yesterday. Takahara-Dias said the freshman (9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds per game) is a game-time decision.