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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 1, 2002

Wahine beat UTEP for 20th win of season

By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer

Twenty wins in a season represent success and prosperity for any college basketball team.

Hawai'i's Karena Greeny, right, tries to dribble past UTEP's Romie DeAnda in the first half. Hawai'i won, 64-48.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

University of Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine coach Vince Goo has accomplished the feat six times in the past seven seasons after last night's 64-48 victory over Texas-El Paso.

"That's always a goal we set at the beginning of the year — to win 20 games," Goo said. "It's nice to reach that mark and I know the players feel pretty good about it."

Karena Greeny scored 11 points, and Natasja Allen and Kim Willoughby each added 10 for Hawai'i before 733 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Hawai'i (20-6) moved into a tie for second place in the Western Athletic Conference with Rice at 13-4. Both teams will conclude their regular seasons tomorrow at home with Hawai'i playing Boise State (5-12) and Rice facing Tulsa (11-6).

If Hawai'i and Rice finish in a tie, the Owls would get the No. 2 seed at next week's WAC Tournament in Tulsa because they swept the season series against the Rainbow Wahine.

Louisiana Tech (16-1), which beat Fresno State last night, has already clinched the tournament's No. 1 seed.

UTEP (3-23, 1-16) has lost 16 straight and 15 in a row against WAC teams, both school records.

"We're hanging in there," UTEP coach Keitha Green said. "It's a long, long season and when you've not had a lot of success it's more of a mental challenge than anything."

The Rainbow Wahine put the game out of reach with an 11-0 run early in the second half, giving them a 46-29 lead with 14 minutes remaining.

The Miners responded with a 7-0 run that cut the lead to 46-36 with 12:05 left, but Hawai'i scored eight straight over the next 2:30 to go up 54-36. The Rainbow Wahine extended the lead to a game-high 18 points on five occasions over the final 9:30.

Hawai'i used a height advantage inside to outrebound UTEP, 40-29. The Miners' tallest starter was 6-foot-1 Romie DeAnda, while Hawai'i started 6-5 Christen Roper and the 6-2 Allen. Greeny led the Rainbow Wahine with eight rebounds, while Willoughby and Allen added six each.

"We're outsized quite a bit," Green said. "We battled pretty hard at times, but we had some costly turnovers.

In the first half, Goo replaced his five starters with just under 12 minutes left and Hawai'i leading 11-8. They re-entered the game with 8:28 remaining and Hawai'i ahead 14-10.

"The five people we came off the bench with we know they could play and defend well against UTEP," Goo said. "We were going to do that anyway."

Hawai'i went on a 9-0 run over the final 2:42 of the half to go up 31-21. The rally was capped by a rare five-point play with 20.2 seconds remaining. Jade Abele hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key and UTEP's Pamela Massey fouled Willoughby away from the ball simultaneously. Willoughby hit both of the ensuing free throws.

"That one possession with the 3-point basket made and the foul, which turned into a five-point possession, knocked the wind out of us a little bit," Green said. "It went from a five-point game to being down 10, and that hurt us."

Hawai'i seniors Janka Gabrielova and Greeny will play their final home game against Boise State.