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RIVERSIDE, Calif.—The University of Hawai`i women’s basketball team (5-8, 1-1 Big West) won its first game back in the Big West Conference, 65-50 at UC Riverside (7-6, 0-2 Big West). Three Rainbow Wahine scored in double-figures—led by Shawna-Lei Kuehu‘s game- and season-high 14 points. Kamilah Martin added 13 and Vicky Tagalicod came off the bench to score 11. It also marked UH’s first road win under first year head coach Laura Beeman.
Kuehu went 6-of-10 from the floor with a pair of free throws to lead Hawai`i. She also grabbed three rebounds with an assist and three steals coming off the bench. Twelve of Kuehu’s 14 points came in the second half as she kept UH’s offense for the win. It was the most points Kuehu has scored since she poured in 18 points as a red-shirt freshman at Boise State in 2011.
Martin was 6-of-13 in field goals and was 1-of-1 from the free throw line. She swiped a game- and season-high four steals with a season-low four rebounds.
The Rainbow Wahine’s defense bounced back after a disappointing showing at Cal State Fullerton to stymie the Highlanders’ offense, holding them to 17 points below their season average and a 34.8% field goal. As a team, the ‘Bows tallied a season-high 13 steals in the game with Martin swiping four and Kuehu and Sydney Haydelstealing three apiece. Although the ‘Bows were edged out on the glass by UCR, 35-to-33, snapping UH’s string of five straight games of out-rebounding their opponents. However, UH did their damage in the paint, outscoring the Highlanders 32-to-20 in points in the paint and 11-to-2 in points off of turnovers. UH’s reserves also outscored UCR’s bench, 38-to-10. After giving up an uncharacteristic season-high 24 turnovers in the last game against Cal State Fullerton, UH bounced back to commit just nine in the game.
After trading early leads in the first half, UH went on a 9-0 run to go up 15-5 on a jumper by Tagalicod. Later, the ‘Bows went up by as much as 11 points twice, but then the Highlanders—who UH held scoreless for over six minutes—then started to make a run of their own. UH led by 10 with 1:49 left, but UCR closed in fast ending the first half on a 7-0 run to cut their deficit to three, 26-23.
The Highlanders extended their run to 13-0, scoring the first four points in the second half on a jumpshot by Brittany Crain and a pair of free throws that tied the game and then gave UCR their first lead since 18:02 left in the first half. Hawai`i, however wasn’t fazed, as they proceeded to go on a 10-0 run to jump back to a 10-point lead at 37-27 on a pair of Martin layups, an old-fashioned three-point play by Tagalicod, two made free throws by Sydney Haydel and a bucket by Kuehu. The ‘Bows never looked back, allowing UCR to get as close as six points once, but building their lead to as much as 17 points with 1:07 left in the game.
The Rainbow Wahine return home to host a pair of conference contests against UC Irvine on Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 7:00 p.m. and Long Beach State on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 5:00 pm.