Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 21, 2002

'Bows win Classic opener

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

After a brain-draining final exam week, Hawai'i found another test in Loyola Marymount yesterday.

Hawai'i's Michelle Gabriel is fouled by LMU's Jennifer Henry.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Jade Abele scored a team-high 19 points and the Rainbow Wahine received strong play from its reserves to grind past the Lions, 56-51, in the first day of the 11th annual Ala Moana Hotel Paradise Classic.

A crowd of 427 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Hawai'i overcome a cold-shooting start and win its third consecutive game.

"We may have looked sluggish at times, but I think a lot of that was mental fatigue," said Hawai'i coach Vince Goo, who had four players complete final exams a few hours before tip-off. "That's what happens in finals week. It's nice to see them gut it out."

In the opening game, forward Plenette Pierson scored a game-high 17 points as 10th-ranked Texas Tech defeated Tennessee-Chattanooga, 66-53.

Hawai'i (6-2) will play Texas Tech (6-1) for the championship at 3 p.m. today, while Loyola Marymount (6-2) will play Tennessee-Chattanooga (6-2) for third place at 1 p.m.

Hawai'i played most of the game without center Christen Roper who ran into foul trouble and played just 14 minutes, including two minutes in the first half. Without Roper, Hawai'i sometimes stalled on offense and lacked the defensive stopper in the middle of the key.

But the reserves — forward Penny Jones and center Callie Spooner — filled in nicely, posting Roper-like rebounding numbers, while playing solid defense. Jones and Spooner combined for 12 rebounds and four points. Forward Natasja Allen also raised her game, scoring eight of her nine points during the first half.

"Tasja and Callie did a great job stepping up, especially Callie coming off the bench as a freshman, and Penny coming in," Roper said.

Less than two minutes into the contest, Goo pulled Roper from the game after the 6-foot-5 senior picked up her second foul. He did so again when she got her third foul in the opening seconds of the second half.

When Roper re-entered in the second half with 10:48 left, she immediately scored six points and kept Hawai'i from losing a 26-15 halftime lead.

"We need her on the floor as much as possible," Goo said. "She gave us three big baskets in the second half."

But Loyola Marymount wasn't done yet. Behind the play of center Adrianne Slaughter, the Lions clawed back with a second-half surge and closed to 44-43 on Slaughter's putback with 3:29 left. Slaughter scored 17 of her game-high 21 points in the second half.

Slaughter's performance helped ease the loss of leading scorer Kate Murray who suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this month.

"Kate's our best player," Slaughter said. "Everyone has to pick up a little more and add their extra little piece to make up a whole cake."

After Slaughter's basket, Hawai'i responded. Abele drilled a 3-pointer, sparking a 9-3 run that pushed the game out of reach. Hawai'i had gone 0-for-8 from 3-point range before Abele's shot.

"I'm actually surprised I took that shot, because I almost air-balled the one before," Abele said. "I just didn't think and just let it go."

The Lions outscored the Rainbows, 36-30, in the second half but they couldn't overcome a cold-shooting first half where they missed 29 of 35 shots.

"It was a disappointing first half," LMU coach Julie Wilhoit said. "We have to execute from tip-off until the end of the game and not just when we get into a stressful situation."

Goo said UH volleyball All-American Kim Willoughby is scheduled to begin practicing with the basketball team on Dec. 27. Willoughby will join the team as a reserve forward, Goo said.

• • •