RAINBOW WAHINE BASKETBALL
Rainbow Wahine seek home success
The Hawaii women's basketball team is certainly comfortable playing in their home arena ... maybe a little too comfortable.
College basketball teams typically thrive at home and struggle on the road, but this year's Rainbow Wahine team has actually been more successful on the mainland than at the Stan Sheriff Center during the Western Athletic Conference season.
HAWAII VS. FRESNO STATE
When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM
Tickets: $8 (adults); $6 (senior citizens); free for children ages 4-18 and UH students with valid ID.
"I think we're too relaxed at home," UH guard Janevia Taylor said. "If we keep the same intensity we have when we go on the road and bring it home, we'll be all right."
Energized by two wins on the road last week, the Wahine (13-7, 4-5) will try to find a spark at home when they face first-place Fresno State (16-5, 8-1) tomorrow and Boise State (12-10, 4-6) on Saturday at the Sheriff Center.
Tip-off for both games is 7 p.m.
"The old adage, you win them all at home and steal a couple on the road; we've got to win a couple at home. We're kind of upside-down at home," UH coach Jim Bolla said.
Hawaii jumped from seventh place in the WAC into a three-way tie for fourth by earning the program's first road sweep in three years with wins at Idaho and San Jose State last week. The victories raised UH's road record to 5-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play.
Things haven't gone quite as well at home recently as UH has lost three of its last four games at the Sheriff Center.
UH suffered overtime losses to Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State in mid-January. After returning from an 0-2 road trip, the Wahine posted their lone home WAC win over last-place Utah State. They then dropped a 66-61 decision to Nevada on Jan. 28 in their most recent appearance at Manoa.
It took an arduous trip to Idaho and San Jose to get the Wahine back on track.
"Before the Idaho game, a few people just stepped up and were like, 'Come on, let's do this,' " sophomore forward Tanya Smith said. "Amy (Sanders) gave a good speech before the game, just pumping each other up."
Along with the confidence they gained on the road, the Wahine will also be bolstered by the return of junior Pam Tambini (9.1 points, 6.2 rebounds per game). She missed the last five games due to suspension and an illness.
"She gives us a little different dimension, because we can play her in the post area and we can play her on the wing area," Bolla said.
Taylor earned WAC Player of the Week honors by averaging 20 points, 6.5 rebounds and five assists last week. She scored a career-high 23 points against San Jose State.
Smith, who had scored 28 total points over UH's previous six games, matched that figure in two games last week, posting 14 against both Idaho and SJSU. She also had 13 rebounds against the Vandals and 10 against the Spartans.
UH will try to build on its momentum against a Fresno State team tied with Louisiana Tech for the top spot in the conference.
Hawaii suffered its worst loss of the season in its first meeting against FSU this season, a 77-52 rout at the Save Mart Center on Jan. 21. Forward Amy Parrish scored 14 points that night; she paces the Bulldog offense with 15.7 points per game.
Guard Mirenda Swearengin, a 5-foot-6 senior, has sparked FSU since regaining her eligibility after the fall semester, and she nearly posted a triple-double against UH with 12 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.
"They're very talented. They basically took us apart when we played them up at their place," Bolla said. "They completely took us out of our game in the first 5 minutes of the game up there. We just can't let that happen again, especially at home."
Taking care of the ball will be a key to UH's finish in the WAC race. The Wahine average a league-high 20.2 turnovers a game and gave the ball away 26 times in their first meeting against the Bulldogs. They cut that number to 16 against San Jose State.
"(The Bulldogs) got so many points off our turnovers it was ridiculous," Taylor said. "If we cut down on our turnovers and be patient with our offense, things will be way better than it was at Fresno."