Wahine's Phillips gets 2 league awards; Beeman coach of year

Mar. 13—In college basketball math, sixth equals first.

HENDERSON, NEV.—In college basketball math, sixth equals first.

Hawaii junior guard Daejah Phillips was named the Big West's Best Sixth Player and also earned a spot on the all-conference first team.

"I'm blessed for it, " Phillips said. "I celebrated with my family. But as far as the team, this is a team sport. I'd rather celebrate a championship and celebrate us getting our rings than celebrating one person's accomplishment."

Rainbow Wahine guard Lily Wahinekapu and forward Imani Perez were named to the second team. Perez was also selected to the All-Defensive team.

UH's Laura Beeman was voted as the league's Coach of the Year for the third time.

"It's always an honor to be recognized by your colleagues, so I want to thank them first off, " Beeman said. "Go way back with a lot of these coaches. It definitely is a humbling award. ... This isn't because of Coach Beeman, that's for sure. It's because of my staff, it's because of these kids, it's because of the support I get at UH from everyone that is involved with this and touches this program."

After winning back-to-back Big West Tournament titles, the Rainbow Wahine wore a target on their backs this season. It was their dress code en route to claiming the regular-season title.

"I've been in this situation before, even in high school, " said Phillips, a graduate of Centennial High in Las Vegas. "I just know what it's like to have a target on your back."

Phillips' message to younger teammates was : "We need to stay focused and not take any team lightly."

During the offseason, Phillips worked on her shooting. In 19 Big West games this season—all off the bench—Phillips averaged 12.2 points on 48.3 % shooting, including 35 % on 3s.

"Teams are reading me and reading my scouting and know exactly what I can do, " Phillips said. "Being able to shoot on the outside and sometimes on the mid-range and then being able to drive to the basket is kind of hard for a player to guard me because they don't really know what I'm going to do."

Associate head coach Alex Delanian has worked on improving Phillips' shot selection. In the green-yellow-red system, Phillips has earned Delanian's green light to take whatever shot she wishes. Assistant coach Khalilah Mitchell has been helpful on ball-handling and finishing.

Perez averaged 9.9 points and shot 60.8 % in Big West games. Wahinekapu led UH with 11.6 points per game overall and 13.0 in BWC games.

"It feels good, " Wahinekapu said of the honor, "but I'm still hungry for a Big West championship."

Beeman said : "We don't do anything selfishly with this team. Everything is team oriented. There isn't a lot of individual play. To get these kids awards is really hard at times. I'm super proud of them. I know each one of them is excited for the other. But I also know their eyes are on a bigger prize."