Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, February 1, 1999

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

Wahine hit the road
for pair of key games

By Al Chase


Vince Goo did not waste a minute in conveying the importance of the next two weeks to the Hawaii women's basketball team.

Before the Wahine ever reached the locker room following an 87-44 rout of San Jose State on Saturday night, Goo gathered his team in the hallway under the stands just out of sight of the 2,591 fans at the Stan Sheriff Center.

"I told them it's critical the next two weeks," Goo said. "We've got to go up there and take care of UTEP and New Mexico. There's three teams above us and one of them has two losses. That's the way it's meant to be. It's very critical."

The Wahine (12-7 overall, 4-3 Western Athletic Conference) leave tomorrow on a road trip that starts in El Paso on Thursday against the Miners and ends Sunday in The Pit against the Lobos.

New Mexico (14-5, 5-2) lost both road games in Utah last week leaving Utah (15-4, 6-1) and Brigham Young (12-7, 6-1) tied for first place in the Pacific Division.

Hawaii returns home next week to play the two Utah schools.

Saturday was the end of the first round of division competition with the top and bottom halves of the standings clearly defined. UH is fourth, one game behind New Mexico and two behind the leaders, hence the importance of the next two weeks for the Wahine.

Hawaii easily defeated UTEP, 68-31, here three weeks ago, but lost to UNM, 71-66, after getting off to a slow start two nights later.

"We have to get fired up like we do at home. We have to play intense the whole 40 minutes, not just in spurts," said UH forward Crystal Lee, who scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting against the Spartans.

"We can't look ahead and we can't take UTEP for granted. The Miners lost by just three points at New Mexico in front of 18,000 fans," said UH associate coach George Wolfe.

One thing that did not bother the Wahine on Saturday was a scoring drought like the one experienced in the second half last week against Fresno State.

Hawaii scored 44 points in the first half, then added 43 after intermission as every player saw action and scored.

Raylene Howard led UH with 23 points and eight rebounds. BJ Itoman scored 14 and handed out a season-high nine assists.

With a favorable height matchup, the Wahine were able to work their inside game. They were consistent from the field (16-of-29 in each half), hitting 55 percent of their shots, and from the free-throw line (19-of-23), hitting 82 percent.

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