UC Riverside survived a wild finish and clinched the Big West regular-season title with an 81-77 win over the University of Hawaii women’s basketball team today in Riverside, Calif.
UCR guard Brittany Crain scored 21 points to lead four Highlanders in double figures and Simone DeCoud’s 3-pointer with 3:16 left gave UCR (21-7, 14-0 Big West) the lead for good in the matchup of the conference’s top two teams.
UH senior Destiny King led the Rainbow Wahine (17-10, 10-4) with 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field and center Kalei Adolpho finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Guard Briana Harris and forward Megan Huff both contributed 13 points off the bench.
UH fell into a tie for second place in the conference with Long Beach State, but holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with a sweep of the 49ers.
The Wahine led for much of the game and went up 50-43 when guard Olivia Crawford hit a 3-pointer with 6:18 left in the third quarter. UCR responded with an 8-0 run to take the lead and opened up a five-point cushion later in the period.
The Wahine closed to 59-58 going into the fourth, and an Adolpho putback started a see-saw fourth quarter, with DeCoud’s 3-pointer giving UCR a 72-71 edge.
The Highlanders led 78-75 when Megan Huff scored on a putback to cut the lead to one with seven seconds left. Ashleigh Karaitiana came up with a steal on the inbound and fed Huff, whose shot fell off the front of the rim. UCR got the rebound and sealed the win from the free throw line to end UH’s seven-game winning streak.
UH returns to the Stan Sheriff Center next week and closes the regular season with games against UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly.