Star-Bulletin Sports

Sunday, January 13, 2002


Jade Abele and the Wahine take on Louisiana Tech, which is 5-0 in the WAC this season.

Wahine to take on LaTech

By Al Chase

Louisiana Tech may have moved from the Sun Belt to the Western Athletic Conference but nothing has changed when it comes to the Lady Techsters dominating league opponents.

UH This is a women's basketball program that enjoys a 27-year tradition of winning, of winning big, of being among the nation's elite teams, of never missing as NCAA Tournament and believing the only true goal year after year is winning the national championship.

It is rare when the Lady Techsters lose to an unranked team. Their three defeats this season all occurred in road games and were to teams -- Connecticut, Duke and Tennessee -- ranked seventh or higher at the time.

"We expect to be able to play with any team in this country. It was disappointing to lose those games, but we would love to have the chance to play those teams again in March," said Louisiana Tech assistant coach Kurt Budke.

Budke is running the team because head coach Leon Barmore did not make the trip due to an illness in his family.

In the 1990s Louisiana Tech posted 309 wins and a winning percentage of .849, both third best in the nation, and an astonishing 122-9 (.931) conference record. The Lady Techsters enter the WAC with nine consecutive Sun Belt Conference titles and six consecutive tournament crowns.

With Thursday's 79-49 win over host San Jose State, the Lady Techsters improved their conference winning streak to 57 consecutive games. They are 5-0 in WAC play and have beaten league opponents by an average of 37 points. The closest they came to losing was a 24-point victory at Fresno State.

One of the concerns the Tech coaching staff had in preparing for the first WAC season was the travel factor.

"We talked to some of the WAC coaches and they all said it's tough to play the second game on road trips," said Budke.

That hasn't been a problem for the Lady Techsters so far. Nor have they been bothered by the talent level in the WAC.


When: Today, 5 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live, KFVE (Ch. 5)
Radio: Live, KCCN, 1420-AM
Tickets: All seats general admission. $7 adults, $6 seniors, $4 for children (age 4-17) and UH students.
Parking: $3

"We really thought the talent level in both leagues was about the same and I think it's turned out to be true. The things is, both leagues are better than people think," Budke said.

The Lady Techsters certainly bring a measure of respect to WAC women's basketball not found in the past. The other conference schools are forced to upgrade their programs if they want to compete, otherwise everyone will be playing for second place and hoping for an NCAA Tournament at-large berth.

Barmore, whose teams have won 87 percent of their games during his 19 previous seasons, readily acknowledges it takes excellent players to build and maintain the success experienced by the Lady Techsters.

Every four-year player in his program has participated in at least one Final Four. Ten of his players have competed in the WNBA and four played in the American Basketball League.

The Lady Techsters (10-3 overall. 5-0 WAC) have drawn 1,044,121 fans to home games the past 19 years, an average of 3,480 per game.

Louisiana Tech, No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, brings an eight-game winning streak to the Stan Sheriff Center. Ayana Walker, a member of the USA Basketball Women's National Team last summer, is the marquee player, but the talent pool is so deep, last year's starting center Takeisha Lewis comes off the bench this year.

The Hawaii Wahine played Stanford and Baylor, both ranked in the top 10 in preseason tournaments and lost by nine and five points, respectively. UH coach Vince Goo thinks the Baylor game was the best overall effort by his team this season.

The Wahine (10-2, 3-0 WAC) will have to duplicate that performance and improve on it tonight. One thing the UH coaches will try to prevent is an early offensive run by Louisiana Tech, as happened in the Stanford and Baylor games to cause the Wahine to expend too much energy playing catch up.


HAWAII (10-2, 3-0)

Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.

G Janka Gabrielova (Sr.) 5-6 10.7 2.6 4.8

G April Atuaia (Soph.) 5-10 9.1 8.2 4.1

F Natasja Allen (Jr.) 6-2 13.4 5.9 1.3

F Karena Greeny (Sr.) 5-11 8.0 5.3 2.1

C Christen Roper (Jr.) 6-5 12.2 8.3 0.6

LOUISIANA TECH (10-3, 5-0)

Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.

G Essence Perry (Sr.) 5-7 4.9 3.3 1.5

G Amber Obaze (Soph.) 5-9 12.7 4.2 2.9

G Brooke Lassiter (Sr.) 5-9 9.1 3.8 3.7

F Ayana Walker (Sr.) 6-3 13.4 8.6 1.6

C Cheryl Ford (Jr.) 6-3 10.6 7.0 0.4

Notes: The UH Alumnae game starts at 3 p.m. ... The Lady Techsters have won all five games with the Wahine. The last meeting was Nov. 12, 1988 with Louisiana Tech winning, 71-52, the smallest margin of victory in the series. The Lady Techsters average margin of victory against UH is 39.4 points. ... Tech junior center Cheryl Ford is the daughter of NBA standout Karl Malone. ... Brooke Lassiter has made all 30 of her free throws this season and leads the WAC in 3-point field goal percentage (.471).

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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