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Wednesday, January 26, 2005



[ WAHINE BASKETBALL ]

UH



UH aims at
Rice on road

The Hawaii women's basketball team has one more chance to win a game in Houston.

The Rainbow Wahine have never won in six visits to Autry Court, home of the Rice Owls, who move to Conference USA next year. Rice has won 10 of 15 encounters with UH, the only Western Athletic Conference team besides Louisiana Tech to be on the plus side of the all-time series.

"We know we have our work cut out for us," said UH coach Jim Bolla, who "winged it" in yesterday's practice with just field-goal shooting, running and free-throw shooting to help the players recover from the all-night flight from Honolulu.

The players were scheduled to get the low down on the Owls (11-7 overall, 4-3 WAC) in practice today. Rice is coming off road wins at Fresno State and Nevada.

"The Owls are a big team and very athletic," Bolla said. "They have a 6-2 forward (Lauren Neaves) who is very good inside, blocks shots and runs the floor well."

Neaves was the WAC Player of the Week last week. She averages 11.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks a game.

Rice coach Christy McKinney goes with 6-2 Michelle Woods, 5-10 Maudess Fulton, 5-8 Krystal Frazier and 5-7 Latrice Elder to start, but rotates in 6-2 Annie Peck up front and 5-10 Amber Cunningham and 5-9 Kadie Riverin at the guard spots.

Hawaii (8-6, 4-3) got sophomore guard Janevia Taylor back yesterday. She missed the recent homestand with a sprained right ankle. However, sophomore forward/center Alofa Toiaivao is questionable for tomorrow's game after spraining her right ankle in Saturday's game against Boise State.

The key for the Wahine is to play the way they did at home last week.

"We have to push the ball upcourt and shoot well. We did shoot well in the last two games," Bolla said. "Also, we need someone to step it up off the bench like Callie Spooner did last weekend. It could be her or Amber Lee or Pam Tambini or anyone.

"If we play like we did at home, we will be OK. We have to confuse them on defense and I want Rice to press us because we get layups off the press."

The Wahine will have to protect the ball. They are averaging 17 turnovers a game and the Owls are averaging 10.2 steals a game.

Although the Wahine are winless in Houston, it is not like Rice has dominated those games. The last four UH defeats in Autry Court have been by two, six, 14 and four points.

The last time UH beat the Owls was in the 2003 WAC tournament. Rice swept the two regular-season games the past two years.

Notes: Jade Abele needs three assists to crack the top 10 on the school's career list and take over the ninth spot. ... Two more blocked shots and Brittany Grice moves into fifth place on the career list.



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