W A H I N E _ B A S K E T B A L L

Wahine face Texas two-step

Hawaii hits the road for a pair of key WAC contests

By Al Chase

The Western Athletic Conference women's basketball season is barely two weeks old, but the Pacific Division will be down to one undefeated team after tomorrow's game between the University of Hawaii and Southern Methodist University.

The Wahine (12-1 overall, 3-0 WAC) open a two-game road trip against the Lady Mustangs (4-0, 11-3) in Dallas tomorrow, then play Texas Christian (2-2, 11-4) in Forth Worth, Texas, on Saturday.

Starting with senior Nani Cockett's freshman season (1993-94) and throwing out the 1994-95 campaign, when she and Tania Brunton were lost to knee injuries, the Wahine have fared well on the road. They were 8-5 in 1993-94, 8-4 in 1995-96 and 7-4 last season.

Cockett says this year's team is close, which will help on the road.

"It is harder and we have to adjust, but the closeness of this team reminds me of my freshman year when we had a great bunch of seniors who looked after us," she said. "Now it's our job."

"We travel really well, honestly. We've always traveled well," senior Brandi Ashby said.

"We were talking in the locker room (after the San Diego State game) about being ready mentally. We know it is going to be difficult, but we're prepared for that."

The UH coaching staff know SMU has two fine post players in 6-foot-1 sophomore forward Karlin Kennedy, the leading scorer with 17.3 points per game, and 6-2 sophomore center Claudia Brassard, the top rebounder with 8.4 boards per game.

"They are both good and they do the same thing from either side of the basket," UH associate coach George Wolf said.

Also averaging in double figures are 5-7 junior guard Karen Blair (11.4) and 5-11 senior guard Kveta Truchlikova (10.8).

TCU is led in scoring by 5-9 freshman guard Jill Sutton (16.3 ppg) and in rebounding by 5-11 junior forward Misty Meadows (7.3 rpg).

The Lady Frogs are No. 3 in scoring in the WAC (75.8) and also average six 3-pointers per game.

This will be the first time Hawaii has played at either school, although the Wahine defeated TCU in last season's WAC Tournament.

"I don't think there is any difference playing on the road than here," UH junior guard BJ Itoman said. "It's a court, the same dimensions, and coach said the basket is orange and the net is white. I don't think it should be a problem. We just have to focus."

"We've done well on the road. I think our ladies come out with a good attitude on the road," UH head coach Vince Goo said. "If we come home with a loss or two losses, we're not going to make any excuses. That's it.

"I told the ladies that when you hear a cheer, they are cheering for you. When you hear a boo, it's for the other team. It's just that there's about a 10 second delay, that's all."

Both games will be broadcast live on KCCN (1420-AM), with the pregame shows starting at 2:45 p.m. (SMU) and 3:15 p.m. (TCU). Hawaii leads both series (3-0 vs. SMU and 1-0 vs. TCU).

The Wahine are 19th in the nation in scoring (80.7 points per game) and 23rd in scoring defense (58.3) in NCAA statistics released Monday.

Kylie Page is 18th in 3-point field-goal percentage (.475 on 19-for-40) and Cockett is tied for 41st in scoring (19.7 ppg).

Head coach Rhonda Rompola has a winning record in all six seasons at SMU. Her career record is 125-66 (.654.). Goo's career mark is 212-94 (.693).

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