The Hawaii women’s basketball team never led in a 74-62 loss at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.
Sarah Toeaina scored 22 points and Briana Harris added 14 for the Rainbow Wahine (6-11, 2-3 Big West). Drew Edelman led UCSB (9-9, 4-1) with 19 points and Drea Toler added 17.
The Wahine shot 49 percent from the field, but allowed the Gauchos to convert nine of 21 3-point attempts. UCSB’s 3-point shooting thwarted Hawaii’s rallies in the second half.
“We gave them too easy and too open looks,” Hawaii coach Laura Beeman said in a phone interview. “You can’t do that with those types of athletes.
“We had a game plan. At times we executed it, at times they didn’t. They (Gauchos) capitalized. That’s where the 3-point field-goal percentage is higher than it should be. We just at times didn’t execute correctly on the defensive end.”
It was Toeaina’s second straight 20-plus game. She scored 23 in a win at Cal Poly on Thursday, when Hawaii shot 57 percent from the field. Her layup tied the game at 33-33 with 8:06 left in the third quarter. UCSB then hit three 3-pointers during a 12-4 run to extend the lead to 45-37 with 5:22 left. Toeaina made back-to-back layups to help Hawaii close to 49-45 with 57 seconds remaining.
“It doesn’t hurt when Sarah Toeaina is shooting lights out and is taking a large amount of our shots,” Beeman said. “She has a very, very high percentage.”
Onome Jemerigbe hit a free throw to end the third for UCSB and the Gauchos scored eight straight to start the fourth quarter. Toler hit a pair of 3-pointers late in the game to protect the lead.
UCSB led by as many as 14 late in the first quarter and by 10 midway through the second. The Wahine cut the deficit to six points on two occasions and trailed 31-26 at halftime after Lahni Salanoa made a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left.
“We knew that, quite honestly, Santa Barbara is the best team in our conference and we’re overmatched in some positions,” Beeman said. “Quite honestly, I thought we competed hard. We had some lulls. But the adjustment and what we talked to the girls about was, ‘Look, you got to dig yourself out of this, there’s no quitting.’ We know we can sustain energy. We know we need to sustain effort.”
Hawaii hosts UC Irvine on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Cal Poly Saturday at 5 p.m., the first game of a doubleheader. The Rainbow Warriors play UC Santa Barbara at 7:30 p.m.
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