Monday, February 22, 1999
Wahine win ItomansBy Al Chase
The suspense in the Western Athletic Conference basketball game between the Hawaii Wahine and San Diego State Aztecs on Saturday night lasted about six minutes.
The remainder of the evening turned into a celebration for the 1998-99 Wahine, especially for senior point guard BJ Itoman.
Hawaii's tough man-to-man defense held the Aztecs scoreless for the first six and a half minutes and the offense built a 30-13 halftime lead.
Hawaii concluded its home season with a 66-39 rout at the Stan Sheriff Center before 3,817 fans.
It was a typical hard-nosed performance for Itoman. She experienced little difficulty nullifying SDSU's pressure defense and recorded her second career double-double (13 points, 10 assists). The Wahine captain also had four steals and two turnovers.
Itoman finally dropped her business-like manner late in the game, catching the celebration fever with a brief display of emotion. The 5-foot-5 floor leader hit a 3-point shot with 4:43 to play, skipped a step or two and broke into a huge smile as teammates offered congratulations.
"It was a great way to close out a career at home. It's not the points, but the steals and assists that are an indicator of her career here," UH head coach Vince Goo said. "There will never be another BJ, not when you look at the total package, athlete, student and citizen. There's none finer."
Itoman thanked everyone in her life who has played a role in her development with the same calculated and precise manner used in running the UH offense. Following the postgame festivities, she signed autographs and accepted leis long after most teammates had showered and left the arena.
Those teammates, however, know full well what having BJ on the floor meant to the Wahine success this season.
"You can't say enough about her. She's incredible on and off the court. To me she's very inspirational," said Raylene Howard, who led UH with 22 points and 13 rebounds. "It's great she's achieved so much, because I know how hard she has worked and she deserves every bit of it."
Said Kyla Evers of the Iolani alumna: "She inspires you to play harder. You look at her and how she goes out and plays the hardest and say 'Whoa, I can do that.' She's so supportive. You know when you get beat, she's there to help."
Itoman said she had butterflies before the game. "My teammates were so pumped up, cheering me on," she said. "Once the game started I had no idea I could feel so comfortable in here. I'm still in denial. It hasn't really hit me that this was my last game here."
The Wahine (15-8 overall, 7-5 WAC) conclude the regular season on the road with games at San Jose State on Thursday and Fresno State on Saturday.
Hawaii opens play in the Qwest WAC Women's Tournament in Las Vegas next Monday.