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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, March 9, 2001

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

UH logo

Wahine one win
from WAC title

Hawaii rallies to beat SMU,
97-88, in OT today and will
face TCU for championship

Bullet Wahine Basketball Notebook
Bullet Next stop for WAC tourney?

By Al Chase

TULSA, Okla. -- Dainora Puida scored six of her career-high 25 points in overtime to lead the University of Hawaii Wahine into tomorrow's Western Athletic Conference championship game against Texas Christian University.

TCU advanced to the final with a 76-58 victory over Rice.

The Wahine trailed most of the game. Puida put UH ahead, 75-73, with a putback of Crystal Lee's missed shot with 44 seconds in regulation. D-dra Rucker tied the score with 30 seconds to play, then stole the ball and gave the Mustangs a 77-75 lead with 8.1 seconds remaining.

However, Jana Gabrielova drove the length of the court and hit a short jumper to tie the score again at 77-77.

The Wahine trailed just once in overtime.

Kylie Galloway, who scored 19 points, hit a 3-pointer to put UH ahead, 84-82. The Wahine then converted 10 of 12 free throws down the stretch to keep the Mustangs at bay.

"I didn't want to go home tonight, this being me senior year," Galloway said. "I think it was our 5 a.m. conditioning in August. I'll bet SMU doesn't do that."

Puida popped in 25 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. In two games, she has 48 points and 26 rebounds.

Lee chipped in 21 points and 9 rebounds.

WAC logo

Next stop
for tourney?

WAC women's tourney bids
will be taken after officials analyze
the 2000 and 2001 events


By Al Chase

TULSA, Okla. -- The Western Athletic Conference soon will solicit bids from member schools to host future league basketball tournaments.

Whether the WAC settles on selecting sites for the next two years -- as was done with Fresno, Calif., and Tulsa for the 2000 and 2001 tournaments -- is an open question.

"We're waiting for this year's tournament to conclude so we can do a fair analysis of this year and last," said WAC Commissioner Karl Benson. "It's possible a two-year award could be looked at. It's also possible it would be just one year (for 2002) and we would entertain bids a year from now for 2003."

The 2000 tournament at Fresno generated $1 million in revenues and, after expenses, the payout to each of the eight conference schools was $70,000.

"The corporate sponsorship allows the Tulsa model, with 7,500 seats, to generate a similar amount of revenue as Fresno did with 10,000 seats," Benson said.

Williams, a company involved in energy and communications, is the title sponsor of this year's tournament at a cost of $250,000.

Benson doesn't see a neutral city, such as Phoenix, Las Vegas or Anaheim, in the tournament's future.

"It's critical at this stage -- as we're still trying to build the tournament -- to have the support, fan base and interest from the host institution," Benson said. "The ideal would be to have the biggest arena with the maximum corporate sponsorship."

University of Hawaii athletic director Hugh Yoshida said he'll be taking a look at bidding for the 2003 tournament.

"It will be a challenge that requires a substantial commitment. We would have to find a person or sponsor, maybe two, to make it work," Yoshida said.

Benson said Hawaii's status as a destination site is in UH's favor.

"Hawaii has so many attributes, a great arena, the right size arena and loyal fans," Benson said. "I think the fans there would support the tournament regardless of who is playing.

"Even though the financial side is important, there are other considerations we need to take a hard look at. You can't guarantee the number of season tickets sold translates into the same number of tournament tickets sold. You can't guarantee the home team will advance. You take the risk of playing games in front of sparse crowds."

Benson has encouraged all the WAC members to consider bidding for the tournament. There is some interest in Reno, Nev., another destination site.

That might not sit well with the NCAA, which is against gambling.

"It's a sensitive issue, one that would have to be reviewed," Benson said.

Another factor is the driving distance for fans. There will never be one site that favors all fans from the far flung conference. Tulsa certainly favors the Texas schools and next year's newcomer Louisiana Tech. Fresno favors the California schools, University of Nevada and Boise State, which joins the WAC next year.

"The success of the SEC, ACC and Big 12 tournaments is because the fans can get there without a lot of cost," Benson said.

"Dallas is the most convenient for the most fans, but there is a lot of competition there. Tulsa is a shared market. Fresno is a WAC city. Honolulu is a WAC city."

For UH to bid, Yoshida said the commitment would have to be seven figures.



First WAC final
a win away

TULSA, Okla. -- The University of Hawaii plays today for the chance to participate in its first Western Athletic Conference championship game tomorrow.

The Wahine know reaching the title game enhances the possibility of going to the NCAA tournament.

Rather than dwell on all the possibilities, the Hawaii coaches have told the players the simplest solution is to win the WAC and capture the conference's automatic berth.

Today's opponent, Southern Methodist, stands in the Wahine's way.

Hawaii is the only WAC team to defeat the Lady Mustangs in both regular-season games, something that is not lost on SMU.

"It's a challenge and certainly important to our four seniors who don't want to go home knowing a team beat them three times in one season," said SMU coach Rhonda Rompola.

"We didn't play well in the two losses, and when that happens, you have to credit Hawaii. We were impatient on offense, never got comfortable against their sagging man-to-man defense. They make you take the outside shot and we weren't shooting the ball well."

In the regular-season victories, the Wahine (22-6) built solid leads by halftime and were able to weather rallies by SMU (17-11) in the second half.

WAC Player of the Year D-dra Rucker scored 18 points at the Stan Sheriff Center and 12 points at home against UH.

But SMU isn't a one-woman team. Center Katie Remke has been a problem for the Wahine the past two seasons. Guard Andrea Cossey and center Christie McPeters off the bench showed they were offensive assets in the Fresno State win Wednesday.

"The thing about Hawaii is, with (Dainora) Puida in there, they can all shoot from outside," Rhompola said. "Crystal Lee is having a great year and the Wahine play smart. When they are down, they don't get rattled."

The teams score about the same, but Hawaii allows 10 fewer points a game.

UH shoots better from the field and defends against the field goal better, but the quicker Lady Mustangs average 10 steals a game and turn the ball over less.

"We know they will pressure. Taking care of the ball and rebounding will be keys," said Hawaii coach Vince Goo. "But if the ball goes in the basket, there aren't that many rebounds."

SMU also has moved Jackee Brown into the starting point guard position. She is quicker, a better defender and scores more than Vanita Krouch, who held the job earlier in the season.

"With the exception of Wednesday, we have been shooting the ball well the last three or four games, so hopefully we come into this game with some confidence," Rhompola said.

The Wahine won the regular-season games, 74-56 and 62-48. They lead the all-time series, 8-1.

SMU is riding a five-game winning streak.

Al Chase, Star-Bulletin

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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