HONOLULU – The University of Hawai’i women’s basketball team (8-9, 1-3 Big West) snapped a three-game Big West losing skid on Saturday night, pulling away in the second half from Long Beach State (2-16, 0-4 Big West) on the strength of another four-player double-digit performance.
The Rainbow Wahine found themselves with four players in double-figures for the second consecutive game, with the output again highly influenced by the long ball. UH breached 70 points for the first time since the opening game of December, en route to their first Big West victory.
Tied at 23 apiece just three minutes into the second quarter, the Rainbow Wahine started to make their move, launching into a 10-1 run over a three-minute stretch, sparked by a three from sophomore guard Julissa Tago. After UH fought off the 49ers with the half winding down, Tago wrapped things up with an exclamation point, nailing a buzzer-beater to grant UH the 37-30 halftime advantage.
Countering a third Tago long-range shot to open the second half, LBSU crept back into contention, outscoring the Rainbow Wahine 12-6 across the first five minutes of the third quarter. However, UH found a turning point with their lead trimmed to 45-42, making adjustments after calling a much-needed timeout.
Coming out of the huddle, junior Lahni Salanoa drilled a three and sophomore Makenna Woodfolk knocked down four consecutive points as the Rainbow Wahine grew their lead to double-digits while holding the 49ers off the board for the final three minutes of the third.
The 49ers fought back in the fourth, but junior Leah Salanoa also found her stroke from behind the arc, hitting twice, and UH shot 8-for-14 from the free throw line to keep LBSU at arm’s length. The 49ers drew as close as six, but the Rainbow Wahine were able to control the tempo and come away with the 74-66 conference victory.
Leading the charge, Tago and senior Sarah Toeaina each netted 15 on the night. Tago shot 45.5 percent from the floor and was 2-for-4 from long range in key situations. Toeaina shot 50 percent and grabbed eight rebounds. Woodfolk knocked down a career-high 10 free throws to finish with 14 points, in addition to her team-high nine rebounds.
The Salanoa twins each finished with three from beyond the arc, with Lahni scoring 11 and Leah nine.
The Rainbow Wahine shot a season-high 35 free throws on the night, shooting 65.7 percent from the line.
Hawai’i heads back to the road next week, beginning at UC Riverside on Thursday (Jan. 18), before taking in a rematch against UC Irvine on Saturday (Jan. 20). UCR (5-13, 2-2 Big West) stifled Cal State Fullerton at home, 63-50.