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Wahine rise up to win

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Hawaii elevated its play up in the clouds of Flagstaff, Ariz.

Rainbow Wahine coach Laura Beeman and her staff had a lengthy team meeting with their players prior to Sunday’s game at Northern Arizona. The biggest topics of conversation? Playing with effort and playing as a team, things that were nowhere to be found in Saturday’s season-opening 40-point loss vs. Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz.

A day later, UH got both in a 74-66 decision over the Lumberjacks in Flagstaff — elevation 7,000 feet — for their first victory of the 2013-14 season.

"Of course I’m happy we won. Had we not, I still would have been pleased with the effort, pleased with the teamwork, because that’s something that’s been missing," Beeman said in a postgame phone interview. "The win is great. To go 1-1 on a road trip, the way we did it, I’m very very happy. But the biggest thing I’m happy about is how the girls rebounded, how they played for each other, how the effort improved. How they really stepped forward."

Senior forward Kamilah Jackson overcame a sluggish first half and led the way with 17 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Senior guard Sydney Haydel had 15 points — including 7-for-7 at the free-throw line — to go with her usual defensive workload. Point guard Morgan Mason and utility sophomore Destiny King added 10 points apiece.

After the lead changed hands 14 times, UH went on a 10-0 run to seize control under the 10-minute mark, forging a nine-point lead that held up after getting trimmed to four.

Beeman went with a five of Mason, King, Haydel, Ashleigh Karaitiana and Jackson in the decisive stretch. Shawna Kuehu filled in for Karaitiana when she fouled out with a minute left.

"That group was a perfect matchup. The chemistry between all of them was very, very good," Beeman said.

UH notched 15 assists, against just four at ASU, while turning over the ball 14 times — 12 fewer giveaways than the day before. King had four assists and Karaitiana five as the Wahine looked to make extra passes in their halfcourt sets.

Senior guard Amanda Frost had 24 points to lead the ‘Jacks (0-1) of the Big Sky Conference.

UH continues play at home against Washington State on Friday to open the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic.

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