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Rainbow Wahine overcome obstacles, tie for first in Big West

Feb. 2—Related Photo Gallery: Rainbow Wahine basketball team wins against Cal State Fullerton, 66-61

As the obstacles continue to mount, the Hawaii women's basketball team still manages to find a way.

Daejah Phillips scored 11 of her season-high 22 points in the fourth quarter and Hawaii, playing without its top two post players, held off Cal State Fullerton 66-61 on Thursday night.

A crowd of 851 held their breaths as the Rainbow Wahine missed five of six free throws during a stretch in the final two minutes at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. Lily Wahinekapu, who missed four in a row, sunk both with 23 seconds remaining to put UH ahead 62-59.

Cal State Fullerton guard Gabi Vidmar, the team's leading scorer, had an open 3 to tie it but came up short.

MeiLani McBee grabbed the rebound and made two free throws to help Hawaii (11-8, 8-2 Big West) move into a first-place tie with UC Irvine (14-6, 8-2) heading into Saturday's game between the two schools with sole possession of first on the line.

"We found a way to win," said Hawaii coach Laura Beeman, who wore a mask during the game and gave an opening statement to media before leaving. "Winners find a way to win. These guys got it done tonight, so I could not be more proud."

Hawaii played without its top two post players, as Brooklyn Rewers missed her fifth straight game with an injury and Imani Perez was out due to a personal matter.

Cal State Fullerton forward Ashlee Lewis took advantage inside with a season-high 25 points and 13 rebounds, but it wasn't enough for the Titans (7-13, 3-7), who got a jumper from Fujika Nimmo to drop with 10 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to three. McBee made two more free throws for the final margin.

Wahinekapu finished with 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Jacque David played six minutes starting her first game in place of Perez and made two 3-pointers.

Despite missing its top two rebounders, Hawaii ended up with a 35-33 edge on the boards.

"I think kind of throwing them off of their post play a little bit, getting them off the block a little bit more and pushing them out," McBee said about the defensive game plan. "If they do get a deep (post), which they did at some points of the game, knowing that my teammates have my back when the ball got inside is a big thing for us."

The mismatch on one end was a strength on the other as Phillips went to work on the perimeter when switched off against a Fullerton big.

Phillips shot 5-for-8 from the field in the fourth quarter and twice gave Hawaii its largest lead at six points in the final 3:10 with made baskets.

"Coach K (Khalilah Mitchell) was telling me that this team couldn't guard me at all," Phillips said. "It was more just taking advantage of what they can't do."

David's first 3 dropped 40 seconds into the game to open the scoring, but the Titans responded by holding Hawaii scoreless for more than five minutes as Lewis had her way inside with five early points.

Hawaii trailed 13-9 when Wahinekapu was whistled for her second foul with 40 seconds left in the first quarter.

UH rested her for the entire second quarter and managed to hang tight as the Titans took a 25-22 lead into halftime on Hope Hassmann's jumper with 13 seconds to go.

David, who played only the first four minutes of the first half, started the second half and drilled another 3-pointer 18 seconds in to tie the game at 25-all.

Wahinekapu scored Hawaii's next eight points to keep pace with the Titans, who made seven of their final 10 shots in the third quarter.

Phillips splashed a corner 3 on an assist from Wahinekapu for Hawaii's first lead since the start of the game and made two free throws with six seconds to go to put UH ahead 45-44 heading into the fourth.

Hawaii has won 10 straight against Cal State Fullerton and 14 in a row at home dating to 1995.

BIG WEST WOMEN

Conference Overall

W L Pct. GB W L

UC Irvine 8 2 800 — 14 6

Hawaii 8 2 .800 — 11 8

UCSB 7 3 .700 1 13 7

UC Davis 7 3 .700 1 11 9

Cal Poly 6 4 .600 2 10 10

UC Riverside 5 5 .500 3 10 10

UC San Diego 5 5 .500 3 9 12

CS Fullerton 3 7 .300 5 7 13

Long Beach St. 3 7 .300 5 8 12

CSU Bakersfield 3 7 .300 5 6 13

CS Northridge 0 10 .000 8 2 18

Thursday

Hawaii 66, Cal State Fullerton 61

Long Beach State 70, CSU Bakersfield 57

UC San Diego 53, CS Northridge 52

UC Irvine def. Cal Poly (forfeit)

UC Davis 82, UC Santa Barbara 62

Saturday

UC Irvine at Hawaii, 7 p.m.

Cal State Bakersfield at UC Santa Barbara

Cal Poly at UC Davis

Long Beach State at UC San Diego

CS Northridge at UC Riverside

HAWAII 66,

CAL STATE FULLERTON 61

TITANS (7-13, 3-7)

MIN FG-A FT-A R A PF PTS

Hassmann 35 4-8 1-2 2 3 4 11

Vidmar 37 4-10 0-0 5 1 1 10

Neff 31 0-2 1-2 3 0 1 1

Lewis 2810-12 5-5 13 2 3 25

Nimmo 35 3-14 0-0 3 4 4 7

Salzr.-Harrell 9 0-0 0-0 1 2 1 0

Lagway 6 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 0

Levingston 11 1-3 5-6 2 0 5 7

Hernandez 2 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 0

Tse 3 0-2 0-0 0 0 1 0

Strachan 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

TEAM 2

TOTALS 200 22-51 12-15 33 13 22 61

RAINBOW WAHINE (11-8, 8-2)

MIN FG-A FT-A R A PF PTS

Thoms 35 0-3 0-0 6 0 4 0

Wahinekapu 25 6-9 2-6 7 2 3 14

McBee 37 3-11 4-5 3 0 2 11

David 7 2-3 0-0 1 0 0 6

Davies 20 0-2 0-0 2 1 2 0

Imai 16 2-8 3-3 2 2 1 7

Berrett 18 1-1 2-2 5 0 0 4

Phillips 26 9-16 3-6 1 0 4 22

Peacock 16 0-3 2-2 2 0 1 2

TEAM 6

TOTALS 200 23-56 16-24 35 5 17 66

Score By Period

Cal State Fullerton 16 9 19 17 — 61

Hawaii 11 11 23 21 — 66

3-point goals — CSUF 5-22 (Hassmann

2-5, Vidmar 2-8, Nimmo 1-5, Neff 0-2, Tse

0-2). Hawaii 4-23 (David 2-3, Phillips 1-4,

McBee 1-7, Davies 0-2, Imai 0-2, Peacock

0-2, Thoms 0-3). Steals — CSUF 6 (Vidmar 3, Hassmann, Nimmo, Salazar-Harrell).

Hawaii 10 (Phillips 3, Thoms 2, Wahinekapu 2, David, Davies, McBee).

Blocked shots — CSUF 3 (Lewis 3). Hawaii none. Turnovers — CSUF 15 (Nimmo

4, Vidmar 3, Levingston 2, Lewis 2, Hassmann, Lagway, Salazar-Harrell, Strachan).

Hawaii 11 (Davies 4, Wahinekapu 2, Imai,

McBee, Peacock, Team, Thoms). Technical fouls — none. Officials —

Steve Piercy, Amy Krommenhoek, Tim

Tamashiro. A — 1,801.