A stingy defensive effort propelled the University of Hawaii women’s baskeball team to a 59-45 win over UC Santa Barbara tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Leading by four with 3:46 left in the third quarter, the Rainbow Wahine broke away with a 17-4 run and picked up their eighth win in the last nine games.
UH guard Briana Harris led the Wahine with 15 points off the bench and senior Destiny King added 13 points and nine rebounds.
UH (18-10, 11-4 Big West) remained tied with Long Beach State for second place in the conference. The Wahine hold the tiebreaker edge for second place and a double bye in next week’s Big West tournament in Anaheim, Calif.
The Wahine close the regular season Saturday with their senior-night game against Cal Poly.
The Wahine and Gauchos (11-19, 8-8) stayed within a possession of each other for most of the first half before UH went into halftime with a 26-21 lead.
King, who was recognized before the pregame introductions for joining the program’s 1,000-point club last week, sparked the Wahine with seven points in the first quarter. Harris attacked the rim to provide a lift off the bench with eight points, six coming in the second quarter.
The Wahine held UCSB without a field goal over the last 5:47 of the first half, with the Gauchos shooting 2-for-15 in an eight-point second period.
The Gauchos opened the second half with a 6-0 run to briefly take the lead, but UH answered with a 9-2 spurt with Ashleigh Karaitiana hitting the game’s first 3-pointer with 4:04 left in the period to give UH a 35-29 lead.
The Wahine then ended the quarter with a 9-0 run to open up a 44-31 lead going into the final period.
The lead topped out at 17 before UCSB went on an 8-0 run midway through the quarter. But UH scored the next six points to maintain control.
Coco Miller led UCSB with 13 points.