Kanekoa comes through in UH win over Kent State


POSTED: Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This one deserves a rematch.

Keisha Kanekoa dribbled the length of the court, split two defenders at the free-throw line and dropped in a floater with 3.3 seconds left to give Hawaii a 54-53 victory over Kent State in the first game of the Waikiki Beach Marriott Showdown last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The teams will square off again tonight at 7 to complete the two-day event.

The Rainbow Wahine (5-7) led much of the game against the Golden Flashes (6-4), only to lapse into a 7-minute scoring drought late in the game. KSU's Jamilah Humes sank two free throws with 10.5 seconds left to put the Flashes up 53-52, but the Mid-American Conference visitors from Ohio couldn't get a final stop.

After a timeout, Kanekoa stutter-dribbled near the top of the arc, took the ball into the paint strong and dropped in the last of her season-high 19 points as the vocal gathering of 645 erupted.

“;Execute. Mental toughness. Our coaches just said go out there and execute,”; Kanekoa said of the team's mentality in the final timeout.

KSU had a final chance, as Humes got off an off-balance runner as the buzzer sounded, but her shot hit the back iron.

“;We didn't give up, and we believed down the stretch and the end, and that's a nice change of heart for our team,”; coach Dana Takahara-Dias said. “;We had lady luck on our side.”;

Hawaii's height and length in the post at times bothered the smaller Flashes, particularly forward Breanna Arbuckle, who had eight points, 10 rebounds and a career-high five blocks. Guard Leilani Galdones added a career-high 14 points off the bench.

It was UH's first game at home since Dec. 3 against San Francisco.

KSU was adept at gambling for steals, collecting 11 and forcing 21 UH turnovers. But the Wahine played rude hosts to the Flashes, holding KSU to 24.2 percent shooting in the first half and a season-low 28.8 for the game.

UH went on a 10-3 run to go up 46-38 midway through the second half, but then the epic drought began. After Kanekoa drained a jumper with 10:17 left, the Wahine wouldn't score until Rebecca Dew made two free throws with 3:13 left.

Kent State won 17 of its last 21 nonconference games entering the night, but struggled against Hawaii's matchup zone with seven assists against 17 turnovers.

Jones led the Flashes with 23 points and nine rebounds.

For the box score, please see “;Scoreboard.”;