Rainbow Wahine riding high after important win

Feb. 23—If you handed Laura Beeman a script to write for how last week's homestand would go, she couldn't have made it any better.

If you handed Laura Beeman a script to write for how last week's homestand would go, she couldn't have made it any better.

The Hawaii women's basketball team enjoyed one of the most successful home games in the history of the program on Saturday. UH welcomed more than 4, 000 people, many of whom who stayed after and waited in long autograph lines, inside of SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center to watch UH hold off Big West rival UC Santa Barbara 68-64.

It remains to be seen what the off-court significance will be of a home game that was the highest attended in Beeman's 12-year career here. The on-the-court value, however, is a no brainer.

Hawaii (15-9, 12-3 ) remains in first place in the conference with five games to go. With UC Santa Barbara losing to UC Irvine on Thursday night, Hawaii is tied with the Anteaters entering Saturday's game at Long Beach State, with Cal Poly in third place two games back.

The format for the conference tournament has reverted back to what it was in 2019. The top seeds will receive a double-bye into the semifinals and will need to only win twice to win the tournament.

UH has won the past two tournaments seeded first or second and had to win three games in the tournament with the top seeds playing in the quarterfinals.

As the No. 2 seed the last time the format gave double-byes to the top two seeds, UH lost in the final to UC Davis.

"I do think that the conference is on the right path as far as protecting the top seeds, so that if you were to advance, you're rested and you're ready to play not having played four or five games the last 10 days, " Beeman said. "I kind of think it's how you spin it with your team.

"I think there's pros and cons both ways. You sit and you watch for a while and so when you show up to that Friday game, are you rusty ? Is the chemistry there ? Are you meeting up with a team that has a couple of games under their belt and are playing really well ?"

No team has played better at home than Hawaii, which hasn't lost here since November.

The road has been different, as the Rainbow Wahine have split their first three two-game BWC road trips.

UH is playing only a single game this week before closing the home slate with games next week against UC Davis and UC Riverside, which both beat UH at home this year.

Hawaii then plays two of the bottom three teams in the conference, Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State Northridge, on the road before the tournament in Henderson, Nev., March 13-16.

"I think any time you can rest legs, you want to, " Beeman said. "I didn't like the bye the first week of the conference. I thought that was bad timing for us with all of our travel. I do like the timing of this one. It's later in the season. Having a bye and going in and playing one of the hottest teams in the conference, though, gives me a little bit of concern. That has kept me up this weekend more than I wanted to."

Beeman said the team had two days off for the first time since around Christmas following the win over the Gauchos.

UH scored a 68 points in a 13-point win over the Beach in mid-January, tied with Saturday's total for its most in conference play.

Long Beach State (11-14, 6-9 ) has won three in a row under first-year coach Amy Wright, including two by 24-plus points.

RAINBOW WAHINE BASKETBALL At The Pyramid, Long Beach, Calif.

HAWAII (15-9, 12-3 BIG WEST ) VS. LONG BEACH STATE (11-14, 6-9 )—When : Saturday, 1 p.m. Hawaii time—TV : ESPN +—Radio : None