Well, there went that momentum going into Western Athletic Conference play.
There’s never a good time to give up a 21-5 run. But the way the Hawaii women’s basketball team did it in a 63-48 loss to UNLV last night was especially painful.
The Rainbow Wahine (6-7) led 43-42, then collapsed in the final 7 minutes in the finale of the Pepsi Rainbow Wahine Invitational before a crowd of 860 at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Wahine, the Runnin’ Rebels (7-7) and Cal State Bakersfield all finished 2-1 in the four-team round-robin tournament. UNLV was awarded the title by virtue of fewest points allowed.
"I still think we are feeling very confident about the progress we made from Day 1," UH coach Dana Takahara-Dias said. "Everyone would like to finish the year with a win, and that was one of the goals tonight. But sometimes you have to look at the losses and see what lessons can be learned."
A UH sweep of the three-day tournament would have done wonders for bolstering confidence heading into 2011. But the Wahine shot just 28 percent in the second half, compared to 53.8 percent for UNLV. The Rebels’ physical front line negated UH’s inside advantage noticeable on the first two days of the tourney, and UH failed to shoot over a stubborn zone defense.
No one was able to answer several big baskets by the visitors of the Mountain West Conference in the final few minutes.
Now UH heads into Western Athletic Conference play next Thursday against New Mexico State. The good news is the Wahine start at home.
Neither team took control of the game until the Rebels hit back-to-back 3s for a 48-43 lead with 7:54 to play. A Mia Bell corner triple with 4 minutes left put UNLV up 52-45, and UH was stymied with a series of bad shots and turnovers.
"This tournament was really good for what we need to work on," said Takahara-Dias, who pointed to perimeter shooting (2-for-13 on 3s last night) and bench scoring (a 24-2 UNLV advantage) as the sticking points. "Tonight we didn’t get the production in the paint that we’d enjoyed previously (in the tourney). It was a really good game three-fourths of the game. We just needed to complete it and finish it."
Tournament MVP Kamilah Jackson was held to eight points and eight rebounds against the Rebels, a night after going for 31 points and 25 boards against CSUB, one of the best individual performances in team history. Point guard Keisha Kanekoa was also named to the all-tournament team and had 12 points. Megan Tinnin and Breanna Arbuckle added 10 points apiece.
UNLV junior Jamie Smith, an ‘Iolani graduate, was guarded mostly by her former high school rival from Punahou, UH’s Shawna Kuehu. Smith had a cheering section and won that battle, scoring a team-high 15 to Kuehu’s six.
UNLV also beat UH 67-54 last year in Las Vegas.
UNLV 63, HAWAII 48
RUNNING REBELS (6-7)
RAINBOW WAHINE (6-6)
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 28, UNLV 27.
3-point goals — UNLV 7-22 (Smith 2-5, Chaney 2-2, Thompson 1-7, Helms 1-4, Bell 1-3, Haynes 0-1). Hawaii 2-13 (Tinnin 2-5, Kanekoa 0-4, Bungaite 0-2, Kuehu 0-2).
Steals — UNLV 9 (Byrd 2, Thompson 2, Nzeukou, Haynes, Bell, Morrison, Chaney). Hawaii 4 (Jackson 2, Tinnin, Kuehu). Blocked shots — UNLV 1 (Nzeukou). Hawaii 1 (Arbuckle).
Officials — Penny Davis, Mike Ishikawa, Brian Yamasaki. A–860.