Coming off bench gives Phillips perspective

Feb. 8—The most important minutes in a game for Daejah Phillips are sometimes the very first ones when she isn't on the court.

The most important minutes in a game for Daejah Phillips are sometimes the very first ones when she isn't on the court.

The reigning Big West Player of the Week is good enough to start for any team in the conference, including her own.

That's not what's important to her. She has asked head coach Laura Beeman to come off the bench in a role that she feels suits her best.

Why ? She likes to get a first-hand account of her opponent so she knows what to expect when she's whistled into the game.

"I can see how the defense is playing our guards and it just gives me a better feel for the game, " Phillips said. "Seeing how they are guarding screens, are they going under or over, are they holding, are they taking charges during the game, how aggressive are (the referees ) calling the game."

It's a lot to process quickly as Beeman doesn't usually take her time in bringing Phillips off the bench.

She's too good of a player, evidenced by her player of the week award on Monday after coming up big in two home wins last week.

Phillips dropped 11 of a season-high 22 points for any Rainbow Wahine this season in the fourth quarter of a win over Cal State Fullerton last Thursday.

Her all-around game was on display Saturday in a victory over UC Irvine, with nine points, seven rebounds and three assists to vault the two-time defending conference champions into first place heading into two road games this week.

Phillips currently ranks second on the team averaging 9.7 points per game and leads Hawaii in assists (44 ) and steals (30 ).

"She just comes up with huge plays in every game we have and Daejah shows up consistently, " Beeman said. "When one of your better players wants to come off the bench, it's kind of a saving grace for you as a coach not having to balance an ego and I'll tell you, this team, we do not have that."

Hawaii (12-8, 9-2 ) plays two teams tied for sixth or better with UC San Diego (10-12, 6-5 ) up first tonight followed by UC Davis (11-10, 7-4 ) on Saturday.

The Rainbow Wahine are 2-3 against the Tritons since UCSD joined the Big West and split the two games in La Jolla, Calif. Hawaii was blown out by 24 points two years ago and rallied from 14 down at half to win by three last year.

"Every road trip we go on we want to win and I think that's an area where the girls know we've had some slippage, " Beeman said. "They are not happy about it so this road trip it's absolutely a point to go 2-0."

Hawaii held the Anteaters to 43 points in Friday's win to mark the fifth time UH has held an opponent to fewer than 50 points in Big West play.

Hawaii is allowing 56.0 points per game this season and holding opponents to 25 % shooting from the 3-point line.

UH's only two conference losses are the two times it gave up more than 61 points.

"Our defensive system is pretty complex. It's not just, 'hey, jump to the ball, '" Beeman said. "It's pretty complex in how we do rotations, how we guard on-ball screens, and the things we ask them to do and I think when you get a team that's been with you three and four years which a lot of these girls have, they start to know each other and they start to understand what we're looking for."

UCSD leads the Big West allowing 51.1 points per game in conference play, ahead of Hawaii at 52.7.

Freshman guard Sumayah Sugapong leads the Tritons, averaging 14.2 points per game and Danli Pinto is next at 11.0 ppg with 41 3-pointers made.

Lily Wahinekapu is the only UH player averaging double figures in scoring at 10.5 per game.

Rainbow Wahine Basketball Hawaii (12-8, 9-2 Big West ) at UC San Diego (10-12, 6-5 )—Where : LionTree Arena, La Jolla, Calif.—When : Today, 5 p.m.

Hawaii at UC Davis (11-10, 7-4 )—Where : University Credit Union Center, Davis, Calif.—When : Saturday, Noon—TV : ESPN +—Radio : None