Take care of the ball. Take care of business.
And, in the final 8 seconds, take charge.
That’s exactly what Keisha Kanekoa did last night. The senior guard for Hawaii scored the game’s final three points and took a critical charge as San Jose State was driving for the potential game-winning basket with 3.6 seconds left, lifting the Rainbow Wahine to a 55-53 win in a physical Western Athletic Conference women’s basketball contest at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Kanekoa finished with 20 points and junior forward Breanna Arbuckle added 13 rebounds for Hawaii (10-17, 4-10 WAC), which enhanced its chances for a WAC tournament playoff spot with the victory. The Wahine also gained some separation from the bottom two teams in the conference, including the Spartans (2-24, 2-11).
"This was a big game for us, a huge win for us," Kanekoa said. "We still need to work on the little things and free throws. I think we’re last in the WAC.
"But we took care of business at the end. If we had just hit even half of the free throws we missed and cut down the turnovers in half, we would have won by at least 10."
The Wahine, last in the WAC from the line (.623), were 17-for-31 last night and "I could hear the sighs from the crowd," Hawaii coach Dana Takahara-Dias said of the missed free throws. "We had critical turnovers (21), but we showed so much character, too.
"San Jose State was very scrappy; they played a great game, and it could have gone either way. We were chasing the whole game, helped by our poor free-throw shooting. This didn’t lock up a tournament berth, but it does make the postseason a good reality."
The Wahine finish the regular season at home with games against second-place Fresno State on Sunday and third-place Utah State on Thursday. After four consecutive road games, the Spartans also finish out the regular season with three home games.
"It was a tough road trip, but we made things tough on ourselves by giving them 18 extra chances on offensive boards," Spartans coach Pam DeCosta said. "We can only control the things we can control. We can’t control the disparity at the line — they shot 31 times to our six, which is ridiculous — but we can control the boards and we can box out."
The Spartans didn’t box out at the most critical of times, when nursing a 53-52 lead with 8 seconds. Kanekoa muscled in for a putback of a missed shot by Sydney Haydel, giving the Wahine just their third lead of the game at 54-53.
Seconds later, Kanekoa planted herself defensively, drawing a charge by Brittany Johnson. Kanekoa hit one of two free throws and Arbuckle sealed the win by stealing the inbounds pass.
Kamilah Jackson added 12 points and Megan Tinnin 11, including six on two 3-pointers early in the second half.
AJ Newton led the Spartans with 14 points and Marnesha Hall added 11, nine coming on three 3-pointers in the first half.
Hawaii was without freshman Shawna Kuehu, who was held after suffering a concussion in practice this week. Takahara-Dias said it would be a game-time decision as to whether Kuehu would play Sunday.
|Fresno State||11||2||.846||1 1/2||20-7|
|Utah State||9||4||.692||3 1/2||15-11|
|New Mexico State||5||8||.384||7 1/2||11-16|
|San Jose State||2||11||.154||10||2-24|
|Boise State||2||11||.154||10 1/2||11-16|
Hawaii 55, San Jose State 53
Fresno State 77, Idaho 51
Utah State 72, New Mexico State 61
New Mexico State at Nevada
Louisiana Tech at Utah State
Boise State at San Jose State
Fresno State at Hawaii, 5 p.m.
Hawaii 55, San Jose State 53
Spartans (2-24, 2-11 WAC)
Rainbow Wahine (10-17, 4-10 WAC)
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 — San Jose State 33, Hawaii 26
3-point goals — SJSU 7-14 (Hall 3-4, Plavljanin 2-2, Newton 2-7, Johnson, L. 0-1). Hawaii 4-13 (Tinnin 2-6, Kanekoa 2-6, Gaddis 0-1).
Steals — SJSU 12 (Newton 4, Sumler 2, Broaden 2, Plavljanin, Johnson, L., Hall, Johnson, B.). Hawaii 6 (Tinnin 6, Jackson, Arbuckle, Kanekoa, Gaddis). Blocked shots — SJSU 1 (Williams). Hawaii 2 (Arbuckle). Officials — Kenneth Nash Jr., Cheryl Flores, Brian Yamasaki. A– 417.