Rainbow Wahine edge Kent again


POSTED: Thursday, December 31, 2009

Maybe Kent State can hang around the islands a little longer.

The Hawaii women's basketball team swept the Golden Flashes in the two-day Waikiki Beach Marriott Invitational with another heart-stopping finish at the Stan Sheriff Center—this time a 63-60 win.

A gathering of 600 saw the Wahine (6-7) close out 2009 strong by overcoming an early 10-point deficit, coming from behind by halftime and narrowly hanging on. UH hung consecutive nonconference losses on a team that came to Hawaii having won 17 of its last 21 games outside of the Mid-American Conference.

Keisha Kanekoa—the heroine of Tuesday night's 54-53 win with a buzzer-beater—hit one of two free throws with 4.2 seconds left to put UH up 63-60.

KSU's Jena Stutzman took a pass upcourt and got off a 3-pointer from the left angle at the buzzer, but her off-balance shot sailed behind the basket as the Wahine celebrated for the second straight night.

UH closed out its nonconference slate with some momentum heading on the road for the first two games of Western Athletic Conference play, starting with defending champion Fresno State next Wednesday.

“;It's really wonderful to end the year with a win,”; UH coach Dana Takahara-Dias said. “;We're very hopeful that our nonconference schedule will prove to be the winning edge when we get into the WAC. We had our ups and downs in nonconference, but I'm very proud with the ladies how they responded these last two (games).”;

Happy New Year, indeed. A 46-30 domination of the backboards and career nights from three UH players helped make it happen.

Leilani Galdones scored a career high for the second straight night, this time with 15. Walk-on Mai Ayabe added a personal-best 10 off the bench and Rebecca Dew was all over the glass with a career-high 15 boards (12 by halftime) and nine points. They collectively helped offset 22 turnovers.

When KSU went ahead 50-49 on the second of back-to-back Stutzman 3-pointers from the right angle with 7:32 left, UH woke up. The Wahine came back with a 13-5 run to seize control again, and had just enough to finish the job, despite no field goals after a Kanekoa baseline score with 4:14 to play.

“;I think we found out we all want it at the end, we'll all fight for each other,”; Galdones said. “;It's like a family. No one will do something to bring our team down. We've been working on our weaknesses, and we've slowly improved.”;

KSU came out firing from deep against UH's zone defense and went up 19-9 just 7 minutes into the game.

UH's solution was an effective three-guard alignment of Galdones, Ayabe, and Kanekoa for much of the second half to counter the Flashes' quickness and perimeter bombing. KSU started 6-for-13 from beyond the arc, but finished 9-for-24.

Jamilah Humes led the Flashes (6-5) with 17 points.












































































































































TEAM  1   1



TEAM  3    

Key— fg-a: field goals made-attempted; ft-a: free throws made-attempted; rb: rebounds; pf: personal fouls; pts: total points; a: assists; to: turnovers; min: minutes played.
Halftime— Hawaii 31, Kent State 29
3-point goals— Kent State 9-24 (Stutzman 4-8, Jones 3-8, Harris 1-1, Spears 1-2, Gibson 0-2, Bennett 0-3), Hawaii 5-13 (Galdones 3-6, Ayabe 2-5, Kanekoa 0-1, Bungaite 0-1).
Steals— Kent State 8 (Spears 3, Stutzman 2, Jones, Humes, Bennett), Hawaii 5 (Kanekoa 3, Patterson, Ayabe). Blocked shots— Kent State 3 (Jones, Odhiambo, Schaefer), Hawaii 4 (Dew 3, Kanekoa).
Officials— Jim Morrell, Mike Ishikawa, Derik La Benz. A— 645.