[ RAINBOW WAHINE BASKETBALL ]
Hawaii getting ready for a long road trip
The Hawaii Rainbow Wahine had better get their fill of warm weather and local food over the next week, because they probably won't get much of either for a while after that.
UH closes out its home basketball schedule this week with Western Athletic Conference games against Idaho tomorrow and San Jose State on Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center. Both games tip off at 7 p.m.
UH VS. IDAHO
When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM
Tickets: $7 (adults), $5 (senior citizens), free (children ages 4-18 and UH students with valid ID)
The Wahine (15-8, 6-6) then end the regular season with a lengthy road trip to New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech next week and head straight to Reno for the WAC tournament, which opens March 7.
So while they're home, the Wahine are trying to catch up on some rest and take care of their school work while working to improve their position in the conference race.
"Some of them had midterms right now, so we're trying to get that taken care of," UH coach Jim Bolla said. "We've got the potential to be gone for almost two weeks if we play well. So we've got to take care of business at home first, academically and athletically, and then worry about going on the road.
"These two this week are crucial for us because we can control getting into third and it starts on Wednesday."
UH enters the homestand tied with SJSU for fourth place in the WAC, and a third-place finish in the regular season remains within reach with Nevada just a half-game ahead at 7-6 in WAC play.
After enduring a 1-5 stretch last month, the Wahine are 4-1 in February and began their turnaround with a 66-60 win at Idaho on Feb. 2.
"We've been executing really well (the last five games)," Bolla said. "So hopefully we're getting things turned around at the right time. Like I told the kids, we're trying to peak for the tournament now."
A few UH players are still fighting off illness, but Wahine center Brittany Grice has rejoined the team and practiced yesterday morning. Grice (11.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game) returned home to California to deal with a family issue last week and didn't accompany the team to Utah State.
Senior Callie Spooner started in Grice's place and contributed seven points and seven rebounds in UH's 63-50 win over the Aggies last Saturday that kept the Rainbow Wahine in the upper half of the WAC.
UH went 8-for-35 from the field in the first half, and ended up shooting 27 percent in the game, but managed to steal the win by doing a better job of hanging onto the ball.
The Wahine had struggled with turnovers earlier this season, but gave the ball away just 12 times and grabbed 52 rebounds, 25 on the offensive glass, on Saturday. UH also went 25-for-29 from the free-throw line.
"This is a perfect example of what we've been trying to preach to them all year about rebounding being a key and making free throws being a key," Bolla said.
Idaho (8-15, 4-8) has lost seven of its last eight games, but features the top two scorers in the WAC in senior forward Emily Faurholt (17.7 points per game) and junior guard Leilani Mitchell (17.2). Mitchell also leads the conference with 129 assists.
They combined for 27 points in Idaho's first meeting against UH on 10-for-25 shooting. UH countered with Janevia Taylor's 17 points and got 14 points and 13 rebounds from Tanya Smith in the post.
Senior sendoff coming: UH will celebrate senior night following Saturday's game against San Jose State. Four Rainbow Wahine make their final home appearances this week, guard/forward Brittney Aiwohi, guard/forward Emily Helmly, guard Amy Sanders and Spooner, a center.