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Rainbow Wahine slip up in visit to Santa Barbara

Jan. 26—UC Santa Barbara gave the Hawaii women's basketball team a stern reminder that winning a third consecutive Big West championship isn't going to come easy.

Senior forward Alexis Whitfield took advantage of Hawaii's lack of size inside with 23 points and 19 rebounds to lead the Gauchos to a convincing 65-53 win over the Rainbow Wahine on Thursday night at The Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Whitfield did it all for UC Santa Barbara (13-6, 7-2), which took back first place in the conference after losing at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.

Hawaii (9-8, 6-2) had no answers for her inside with center Brooklyn Rewers missing her third straight game and forward Jacque David, who returned from a knee injury last week that kept her out for a year, playing less than a minute.

"I feel like if we executed (our game plan) on both sides of the ball, we could have beaten that team," Hawaii coach Laura Beeman said. "We still had what we needed to win this game. We have the depth to beat teams with what we have currently, but you have to show up and you have to play with a sense of urgency, and we did not do that tonight."

Whitfield, who transferred to UCSB for her junior season from Washington, shot 8-for-16 from the field.

She entered the game averaging 15.1 points per game this season, more than double her total from last year, when she came off the bench in every game she played.

"She's a tough matchup whether they put a five on her or a four on her," UC Santa Barbara coach Bonnie Henrickson said in a postgame interview on ESPN+. "We really moved the ball and got her some opportunities with the ball moving downhill. Today, defensively, I thought we were really good. Big win after a tough one the other day."

Alyssa Marin added 12 points for UCSB, which led by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter.

Olivia Davies had a season-high 14 points and Daejah Phillips also finished with 14 points for Hawaii, which never trailed by fewer than 12 in the second half.

Lily Wahinekapu, who finished with nine points on 3-for-6 shooting, surpassed 1,000 points for her career on an elbow jumper in the third quarter.

UH shot 15% (4-for-26) from the 3-point line and was out rebounded 38-27.

"Santa Barbara definitely showed up intense. They had a great game plan. I don't think we made the adjustments we needed to to stay consistent with them," Beeman said. "Quite honestly, I just felt like Santa Barbara had a little bit more of a fire lit underneath them than we did tonight."

Freshman center Vivienne Berrett, who had played in 13 of Hawaii's first 16 games, did not see the floor as UC Santa Barbara stayed small around Whitfield for most of the game.

UH fell behind 22-9 after the first quarter as the Gauchos converted on eight of their first 12 field-goal attempts while Hawaii's starting five went 0-for-5 from the field in the opening 10 minutes.

Hawaii trailed by as many as 17 in the first half before a Davies 3 in the final seconds made it 37-23 at halftime.

A driving layup from Whitfield to start the fourth quarter put UC Santa Barbara ahead 60-38. Hawaii closed the game on a 15-5 run with the game out of reach.

"Any team that is playing us right now is coming with a level of intensity and a level of fight and a desire to beat us," Beeman said. "We're the No. 1 team in the conference, and so everyone is going to give us their best. We're the defending Big West Conference tournament champions, and we may forget about that but nobody else does. Everyone is bringing their best against us, and we have to be able to match that intensity and that sense of urgency, and we did not do that tonight."

Hawaii will finish the road trip at Cal Poly on Saturday, with tip-off at noon. The Mustangs beat Cal State Fullerton on Thursday to move into a three-way tie with the Rainbow Wahine and UC Irvine for second place in the conference.

BIG WEST WOMEN

Conference Overall

W L Pct. GB W L

UCSB 7 2 .778 — 13 6

UC Irvine 6 2 750 1/2 12 6

Cal Poly 6 2 .750 1/2 10 8

Hawaii 6 2 .750 1/2 9 8

UC Davis 5 3 .625 1 1/2 9 9

UC Riverside 5 4 .556 2 10 9

UC San Diego 4 4 .500 2 1/2 8 11

CS Fullerton 3 5 .375 3 1/2 7 11

CSU Bakersfield 2 6 .250 4 1/2 5 12

Long Beach St. 1 7 .125 5 1/2 6 12

CS Northridge 0 8 .000 6 1/2 2 16

Thursday

UC Santa Barbara 65, Hawaii 53

UC Irvine 74, Long Beach State 59

Cal Poly 68, Cal State Fullerton 55

Cal State Bakersfield 70, CS Northridge 54

UC San Diego 51, UC Riverside 43

Saturday

Hawaii at Cal Poly, noon

UC Irvine at CS Northridge

UC Davis at UC San Diego

Cal State Fullerton at Cal State Bakersfield

UC Riverside at Long Beach State

UC Santa barbara 65, hawaii 53

RAINBOW WAHINE (9-8, 6-2)

MIN FG-A FT-A R A PF PTS

Thoms 15 1-6 0-0 0 0 2 2

Wahinekapu 29 3-6 3-4 1 0 2 9

Perez 31 2-6 1-2 9 2 0 5

McBee 27 1-7 0-0 5 0 1 2

Davies 28 6-10 0-0 1 2 1 14 Imai 18 2-5 0-0 1 1 2 5

Phillips 34 4-7 5-7 4 2 4 14

Peacock 16 1-7 0-0 1 0 1 2

David 2 0-1 0-0 0 0 1 0

TEAM 5

TOTALS 200 20-55 9-13 27 7 14 53

GAUCHOS (13-6, 7-2)

MIN FG-A FT-A R A PF PTS

Marin 38 4-11 4-4 1 3 2 12

Choice 35 0-2 0-0 1 3 4 0

Rockwood 28 2-4 2-2 8 1 1 6

Whitfield 36 8-16 6-6 19 2 3 23

Burke 21 3-5 0-0 5 3 3 7

Borter 16 2-3 0-0 0 0 2 6

Hutchens 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

McMorris 10 1-3 3-3 0 0 1 5

Grant 16 2-4 0-0 1 0 0 6

TEAM 3

TOTALS 200 22-48 15-15 38 12 16 65

Hawaii 9 14 15 15 — 53

UC Santa Barbara 22 15 21 7 — 65

3-point goals — Hawaii 4-26 (Davies 2-5, Phillips 1-2, Imai 1-3, David 0-1, McBee 0-3, Peacock 0-4, Perez 0-4, Thoms 0-4). UC Santa Barbara 6-14 (Borter 2-3, Grant 2-3, Burke 1-2, Whitfield 1-3, Marin 0-3). Steals — Hawaii 8 (Phillips 4, Wahinekapu 3, Thoms). UC Santa Barbara 6 (Marin 2, Burke, Choice, Grant, Whitfield). Blocked shots — Hawaii 3 (Perez 2, Wahinekapu). UC Santa Barbara 4 (Marin 2, Burke, Whitfield). Turnovers — Hawaii 12 (Imai 2, Perez 2, Phillips 2, Team 2, David, McBee, Thoms, Wahinekapu). UC Santa Barbara 15 (Choice 6, Marin 4, Whitfield 2, Burke, Grant, Team). Technical fouls — none. Officials — Tyler Trimble, Corey Long, Sydney Mott. A — 699.