The Big West Conference’s all-conference awards were announced on Monday morning as voted on by the head coaches. Hawai’i head coach Laura Beeman earned Coach of the Year honors after leading the Rainbow Wahine to their first conference crown since 1997-98. Freshman Megan Huff earned Best Sixth Player honors and was also chosen to the All-Freshman Team. Senior Shawna-Lei Kuehu was named first team all-Big West while fellow senior Ashleigh Karaitiana was voted to the second team. Junior Destiny King earned honorable mention honors.
Third year head coach Beeman, has guided the Rainbow Wahine to a 22-7 overall record and the Big West regular season crown with a 14-2 conference record. The ‘Bows ended the season on a 14-game win streak—the longest during Beeman’s tenure and the longest since UH won 19-straight during the 1997-98 season under head coach Vince Goo. Hawai’i also posted an undefeated home conference record this season and has a 15-game home conference game win streak dating back to last season. Beeman and her staff have the Rainbow Wahine rolling into the post-season leading the conference in several statistical categories including scoring defense (58.7); scoring margin (+9.3); field goal percent defense (.363); rebounding offense (44.2); rebounding margin (+9.3); offensive rebounds (15.76) and rebound percentage(.391); defensive rebounds (28.41)and rebound percentage (.734); and blocked shots (3.62 p/g). As the head coach at Mt. San Antonio, Beeman was named South Coast Conference Coach of the Year three times (2000, ’06, ’07) and was the WBCA District 8 Coach of the Year in 2008. She was also named southern California Coach of the Year in 2000.
Huff, a freshman from Federal Way, Wash., joined the women’s basketball team in mid-December after playing the entire fall with the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team as a middle hitter. She came off the bench in 14 of UH’s 16 conference games and has been a game-changer in the post for the team. She averaged 16.9 minutes with 7.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. She finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in blocked shots with 20 and a 1.25 average per game in the league. She also finished just outside the Big West rankings with 78 rebounds. She scored in double digits five times, including a career-high 15 points at CSUN (Jan. 10). Huff recorded her first career double-double against CSUN at home (Jan. 31) with 11 points and 10 rebounds. She pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds at UC Davis (Jan. 22). Huff led UH in scoring in three games; four times in rebounds and six games in blocked shots. Huff is the third consecutive Rainbow Wahine to earn the Sixth Player award–Kuehu and Karaitiana won the last two.
Kuehu, a senior from ‘Aiea, O”ahu, has been one of the main catalysts for the Rainbow Wahine during their epic run. She leads UH with 12.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as well as 72 assists (career high), 35 blocked shots (career high), and 39 steals. Kuehu has scored in double-figures 15 times this season and has had the team-high in scoring in 10 games and in rebounds in 11 games this season. She also leads the team with four double-doubles (12pts/11reb at Colorado State; 29pts/15reb No. 14 California; 19 pts/10reb Pacific; and 12pts/13reb UC Davis). Against No. 14 California, Kuehu recorded her best statistical game of her career, pouring in 29 points with 15 rebounds—both career highs. She also had two assists, two blocked shots and a steal in a 79-72 loss on Nov. 21. On Senior Night this past Saturday, Kuehu moved up to No. 9 on UH’s all-time scoring list with 1,201 points—passing Keisha Kanekoa’s 1,200. She is also one of only 10 players to have recorded over 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in their career. She is currently ranked No. 6 on that record list with 629 rebounds. She is also No. 7 with 118 career blocked shots. Overall, Kuehu is ranked in 12 different career record categories for UH. This is the first time Kuehu has earned first team conference honors. As a redshirt freshman, she earned a spot on the Western Athletic Conference All-Freshman team. Then, as a redshirt sophomore, Kuehu was named the Big West’s Best Sixth Player and was on the Honorable Mention team. Last season, she was voted to the all-Big West second team.
Karaitiana, a senior from Hamilton, New Zealand, is second on the team averaging 10.2 points a game. She leads UH with 39 made 3-pointers and is second on the team with 34 steals and 69 assists—both career highs. Karaitiana is third on the team averaging 5.2 rebounds a game. She has scored in double-figures in 20 of UH’s 29 games and has pulled down double-figures in rebounds three times this season—including a career-high 13 at Long Beach State in a pivotal road game. She recorded a pair of double-doubles this season—vs. California (14 pts/11 reb) and at Cal State Bakersfield (13 pts/12 reb). She is averaging a team and career-high 30.4 minutes a game. She has been a stellar defender this season, taking 20+ charges on defense while fouling out just twice this season. Last year, Karaitiana was named the Big West’s Sixth Player of the Year and earned honorable mention honors for the second time.
King, a junior from Long Beach, Calif., is the only Rainbow Wahine to start all 29 games this season for Hawai’i. She is having her best season wearing the Green and White, averaging career-highs of 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. She also has a career-high 32 steals this season. King leads UH with a a .750 free-throw percentage, making a team-high 81-of-108 shots from the charity stripe. She is second on the team averaging 6.2 boards a game but has the most total rebounds (179) on the team. King has scored in double digits 16 times this year, including a streak of seven straight games between Jan. 17 –Feb. 7. She has led UH in scoring in seven games this season; in rebounding five times; and in assists five times.
Hawai’i is the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big West Tournament in Anaheim, Calif. The ‘Bows have a double bye and will open play in the semifinals facing the lowest remaining seeded team on Friday, March 13 at 12:00 pm in the Honda Center.