Rainbow Wahine hope
to avoid WAC play-in game

Wahine basketball

Who: UH at Tulsa
When: Tomorrow, 3 p.m.
Where: Reynolds Center
Radio: Live, 1420-AM

In a season dominated more by losing than winning, a win streak -- even a small one -- can make a team giddy.

Not the case with the Rainbow Wahine basketball team.

"They feel pretty good about themselves, but they're young," said Hawaii coach Vince Goo, whose team arrived in "bone-chilling cold" Tulsa, Okla., yesterday. "They don't get too excited about too many things. Neither do they get down about too many things. It's been a consistent bunch."

Goo hopes his team can duplicate the consistency it displayed last week. The Rainbow Wahine are on the road at Tulsa and Rice. Tip-off against the Golden Hurricane is tomorrow at 3 p.m. in the Reynolds Center.

Hawaii still has plenty to play for as Western Athletic Conference play enters the final two weeks of the regular season. There is still an outside chance that the seventh-place Rainbow Wahine (7-16, 5-9 WAC) can avoid the dreaded play-in games at next month's WAC tournament. The last four teams in the conference meet on the first day of the tourney to determine the brackets for the quarterfinals. Hawaii trails sixth-place San Jose State (14-9, 6-8) by a game.

The Spartans and the Wahine are travel partners, so both teams will face the same opponents over the next two weeks. San Jose State swept the season series in Hawaii earlier this month and would hold the tie-breaker advantage. It isn't inconceivable that the Wahine could steal two victories on the road and catch San Jose State with a little help.

But Goo doesn't want his team caught up in what-if scenarios.

"We don't know what San Jose State is going to do. All we need to do is go out there and try to win a bunch of ballgames," he said.

Since Goo announced his retirement last week, the fourth-youngest team in Division I has done just that, winning back-to-back games for the first time this season. Hawaii is coming off a victory over Texas-El Paso, and the Wahine may have finally turned things around with an offense that seems to have found some rhythm.

"We did a little bit better (offensively the last two games). That's not expected, but it's hoped for," Goo said. "When you're young and inexperienced, defense will always come out first because offensively, you need to work together as a unit for the timing and knowing one another. We're starting to do that."

But to win this week, Hawaii will need its defense to come through against Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane have multiple weapons and a fantastic freshman leading the offense. Redshirt freshman Jillian Robbins leads the Golden Hurricane in scoring (12.9 points), rebounds (8.0) and blocks (37).

The rookie scored a career-high 22 points in the teams' last meeting. Robbins sat out most of the first half in the previous matchup with foul trouble before playing a spectacular second half that keyed Tulsa's comeback victory.

It appears that the Golden Hurricane (15-9, 8-6) have recovered from a rough patch earlier this season. Tulsa lost three in a row (UTEP, Rice, Fresno State) before beating Nevada last week.

"They've been more inconsistent than (Tulsa coach) Kathy (McConnell-Miller) would like them to be, but when they do play well, they can be very, very good," Goo said. "It showed last week when it became a shootout at Fresno. ... They handled Nevada pretty good after that. Maybe inconsistency is something for them to be concerned about maybe. But when they're on, they can play with anybody."

Notes: Hawaii plays first-place Rice at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Owls defeated the Wahine earlier this season by five points (61-56). ... Both games can be heard live on KKEA 1420-AM. ... Hawaii returns home next week for its final homestand. Former players interested in attending Goo's last game at the Stan Sheriff Center should call 956-4325.


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