FULLERTON, Calif. >> The Hawaii women’s basketball team was knocked out of the Big West tournament by Cal State Northridge for the second straight year, 62-57 today in the first round at Cal State Fullerton.
CSUN’s two-time Big West player of the year, junior center Channon Fluker, scored 24 points in her latest big game against the Rainbow Wahine. She put the fifth-seeded Matadors (16-15) up at the outset and they fended off every charge mounted by the eighth-seeded Wahine, whose season came to an end at 12-18.
It was the third time in four years UH lost to CSUN in the tournament, going back to the 2015 championship game. CSUN ousted UH in the second round last March.
Wahine senior Sarah Toeaina went out as the program’s ninth-leading scorer at 1,204 points, as she put in 24 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field and 10-for-12 at the line. Junior point guard Tia Kanoa tied the program’s record for assists in a game with 12, set by Tricia Stringam in 1992.
UH caught a break late in the third quarter when Fluker picked up her fourth foul.
The Wahine rallied within five, 56-51, on Kenna Woodfolk’s putback with five minutes left. Then they remained stuck on 51 for the next four minutes, until Kanoa’s 3 made it a five-point game with a minute to go.
Julissa Tago (11 points) was fouled on a 3 with 45.5 seconds left and made all three free throws to make it a three-point game.
The Matadors drained clock, missed twice, then Fluker got a huge offensive rebound for a new possession with nine seconds left.
UH forced a five-second turnover in CSUN’s inbounds attempt. UH advanced the ball with a timeout with nine seconds left, but then Tessa Boagni (19 points) stole it back and hit the clinching free throws with 3.9 seconds left.