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UH's Beeman focused on the here and now

Feb. 15—The University of Hawaii is marketing Saturday's Rainbow Wahine basketball game as "Beeman's Big Bash " to try to draw the largest crowd of the season—and maybe the entire 12-year tenure of head coach Laura Beeman.

The University of Hawaii is marketing Saturday's Rainbow Wahine basketball game as "Beeman's Big Bash " to try to draw the largest crowd of the season—and maybe the entire 12-year tenure of head coach Laura Beeman.

It's a night to recognize the two-time defending Big West Conference champions for their achievements of the past, and to celebrate another season in which they have remained at the top of the conference throughout league play.

It's the biggest night of the season for the Rainbow Wahine basketball team, and one Beeman won't even begin to think about until after tonight's game against another quality opponent in Cal Poly.

"I do not allow myself to go Saturday until after the game, " Beeman said before practice on Tuesday. "I have to stay with practice today so I stay focused, try to put out the fires we've got going on right now because there's always fires to put out, and just stay really in the moment because that's what I ask these girls to do all of the time. Stay within our process, stay within the moment, stay within each possession and so I really try to practice that."

Saturday's game against UC Santa Barbara is a rematch of a regular-season game last month the Gauchos won in Santa Barbara. It's also a rematch of last year's Big West Tournament title game the Rainbow Wahine pulled out 61-59 on Daejah Phillips' 3-point play with three seconds remaining.

It also could be a game Hawaii plays after falling out of first place if it doesn't focus on another of the Big West's top teams.

Cal Poly is one of five teams within one game of first place entering the week. UH (13-8, 10-3 ) shares the league lead with UC Irvine (15-7, 10-3 ), which the Rainbow Wahine have already beaten twice.

The Mustangs (13-9, 9-4 ) find themselves in a tie with the Gauchos (15-8, 9-4 ) and UC Davis (13-10, 9-4 ).

A top-two finish means a double-bye into the semifinals of the conference tournament this year.

Those byes are even more coveted in a league heavy at the top with five contenders all capable of cutting down the nets in March.

"I think that is has been fun to see some of the teams that maybe have been in the bottom of the pack raise their level and now we have more competition up in that one through five, " Beeman said. "I think the conference is doing a great job of elevating play. I think it's really good preparation for the tournament and really good preparation for the postseason tournaments that your conference is always challenging you."

Hawaii enters tonight on a seven-game winning streak at home with its last loss happening in November in a nonconference tournament against Washington.

UH is coming off a 61-51 defeat at UC Davis on Saturday in which it was held to its lowest-scoring output in Big West play.

Sophomore forward Imani Perez, who scored a career-high 21 points in a road win over Cal Poly in late January, has carried a heavy load as the team's one true rotation post player with center Brooklyn Rewers missing the last eight games and Jacque David still working her way back from a knee injury.

Perez has reached double figures in scoring in her last four games and is averaging 13.8 points and 5.0 rebounds during that stretch.

"We did split the (last ) road trip but I think we definitely have some things to work on, " Perez said. "There's always room for improvement and I think it's really just about staying together and doing the little things."

Hawaii has won the last five meetings and nine of the last 10 games overall against Cal Poly.

Junior guard Lily Wahinekapu has reached double figures in 11 of her last 12 games and leads the team averaging 12.4 points per game in conference play.

The only game she was held to less than 10 points was against the Gauchos.