Senior night a winner for Wahine


POSTED: Thursday, February 25, 2010

It didn't matter how short-handed the Hawaii women's basketball team was.

Nobody was denying the Rainbow Wahine this one.

Dita Liepkalne led her own senior night party with a season-high 17 points and sophomore Breanna Arbuckle came up with the biggest block of her young career as UH outlasted Boise State 66-64 last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

A senior night crowd of 790 saw UH (10-18, 4-11 Western Athletic Conference) snap a six-game losing streak, and more importantly take a huge step toward a WAC tournament berth.

Coupled with Idaho's 74-59 defeat of last-place San Jose State last night, UH is nearly assured a spot in the Reno, Nev., tourney next month. One more UH win or SJSU loss will get the Wahine there.

It wasn't easy to send Liepkalne out of the Sheriff with a game as thrilling as UH's nail-biter over BSU in last year's senior night, but it happened, despite the Wahine having just eight active players. UH jumped to sizable leads in both halves, only to see the resilient Broncos (17-10, 6-7) come back both times.

“;I don't think we were even thinking about losing,”; Liepkalne said. “;That wasn't even a thought, that we could lose. Not today, not in a game like this.”;

Liepkalne's last of her career-high four 3-pointers put UH up 66-62 with 3 minutes, 3 seconds left. Boise got to within two on a Janie Bos hook shot with 1:36 left, and the Wahine tried to draw out as much clock as possible.

Point guard Keisha Kanekoa, the heroine of last year's senior night win, couldn't hit the rim on an off-balance shot with under 15 seconds and Boise got the ball back on a shot-clock violation down 66-64 with 12.3 seconds left.

After a timeout, BSU got the ball to Bos on the right block. But Arbuckle, already in the top 10 of UH career blocked shots, came from behind to swat Bos' shot out of bounds with 2.2 seconds left.

The Broncos got the ball to Jessica Van Hoogen on a curling 3-point shot from the right corner, but her shot rimmed out at the buzzer as the Wahine bench erupted.

“;I'll put it this way ... this win was almost impossible to lose,”; coach Dana Takahara-Dias said. “;It got tight, but I think all of those times that we came up short ... tonight was the culmination of everybody's effort.”;

UH was down yet another player before tipoff. Junior guard Leilani Galdones was suspended seven days for a violation of team rules, UH officials said. Galdones, a starter, is the team's third-leading scorer at 8.1 points per game and had played in every game this season.

“;We were down one more player, so I had to be more aggressive,”; Liepkalne said. “;But I think everyone stepped up today. I remember saying at the 9-minute mark, that I have 9 more minutes left on this court, so we'd better not lose.”;

UH also recognized BSU seniors Van Hoogen, Tasha Harris, and Rebecca Kepilino after the game.

Arbuckle went for a career high in rebounds in an 11-point, 16-board double-double. Julita Bungaite tied a career high with 13 points, and Allie Patterson added 10 for UH.

Arbuckle banked in a 3-pointer at the top of the arc to make it 54-46. UH still couldn't pull away, though, as Boise State surged back to within 61-60 on a Bos three-point play with 4:35 left. She finished with a team-high 16 points.

After an 11-point UH halftime lead, BSU came back to tie it at 44 on a Julia Marshall 3-pointer to cap a 17-6 run.



BRONCOS (17-10, 6-7 WAC)

Van Hoogen3-200-23081127

RAINBOW WAHINE (10-18, 4-11 WAC)

TEAM  4    

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 38, Boise State 27
3-point goals — Boise State 7-22 (Marshall 2-3, Van Hoogen 2-6, Rima 1-3, Harris 1-3, Pilcher 1-3, Gross 0-1, McGilbra 0-1, Kepilino 0-2), Hawaii 7-19 (Liepkalne 4-7, Arbuckle 1-1, Bungaite 1-5, Kanekoa 1-6).
Steals — Boise State 5 (Harris 2, Pilcher, Gross, Van Hoogen), Hawaii 5 (Kanekoa 2, Liepkalne, Patterson, Bungaite). Blocked shots — Boise State 4 (Rima 2, Van Hoogen, Poteet), Hawaii 4 (Arbuckle, Patterson, Bungaite, Wilson).
A— 790.