The University of Hawai’i women’s basketball team took over sole possession of first place in the Big West Conference standings after a 79-64 victory over Cal Poly Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Coupled with Long Beach State’s loss earlier in the day, UH (15-7, 7-2) is now alone atop the league standings with a 7-2 record. The win was Hawai’i’s seventh straight and 12th consecutive at home against BWC opponents.
Senior forward Shawna-Lei Kuehu led the way with a game-high 22 points, 18 of which came in the first half as UH built a 39-31 halftime lead. Kuehu, who missed UH’s loss to the Mustangs in California earlier this season, finished 10-of-12 from the field and surpassed the 20-point mark for the fourth time this season and sixth time in her career. She made her first six shots from the field and was 8-of-9 at the break as she helped the Rainbow Wahine close out the half on a 17-9 run after the Mustangs tied it at 22.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak against the Mustangs (11-10, 6-3), who were led by Ariana Elegado’s 20 points, which included several highlight reel plays. Kristen Ale chipped in with 18 points while Taryn Garza posted 17 points and 10 rebounds.
UH broke open the game early in the second half as the Rainbow Wahine out-scored the Mustangs 13-4 to build its largest lead at 52-35 less than four minutes in. The run was highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers by Ashleigh Karaitiana and Morgan Mason and the Mustangs would not get closer than eight the rest of the way.
In the first half, the Rainbow Wahine jumped out to a comfortable 18-9 lead before the Mustangs rallied to tie it at 22 with a 13-4 run sparked by Elegado. But less than three minutes later, UH pushed its lead to 33-25 after a pair of offensive putbacks and a 3-pointer by Marissa Wimbley. Moments later, Kuehu scored on consecutive possessions giving the Rainbow Wahine a 10-point lead with just over a minute to play.
Karaitiana finished with 12 points, three rebounds and two blocks while Destiny King again threatened a double-double with 10 points and nine boards. Point guard Morgan Mason finished with seven points and six assists.
UH’s honorary captain for the game was a former Cal Poly standout and former UH Athletics Director, the late Stan Sheriff, whom the basketball arena is named after. The game was played before the second largest crowd of the season (2,141).
The Rainbow Wahine hit the road next week for a pair of BWC games at UC Riverside, Feb. 12 and Cal State Fullerton, Feb. 14.