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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 2, 2006

UH Wahine hope bigger is better

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer


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The University of Hawai'i women's basketball team is thinking big against host Idaho tonight.

While the Vandals boast the top two scorers in the Western Athletic Conference, the Rainbow Wahine hope to counter with their height advantage with 6-foot-4 Brittany Grice, 6-3 Callie Spooner and 6-3 Tanya Smith.

"I'd like to go with a bigger lineup, and get the ball inside to Grice, Spooner and Smith, and go inside-out," Hawai'i coach Jim Bolla said. The Vandals' tallest starter is 6-1 center Jessica Summers.

Tonight's game between Idaho (7-11 overall, 3-4 WAC) and Hawai'i (11-7, 2-5) will be played at the Cowan Spectrum. Tipoff is 5 p.m. Hawai'i time. KKEA Radio (1420 AM) will broadcast the game live.

The Rainbow Wahine have lost five of their last six games, and will be without starting forward Pam Tambini for this two-game road trip. Tambini did not make the trip after being diagnosed with a kidney infection, Bolla said. She could be ready for next week's homestand, he said.

Idaho senior forward Emily Faurholt (18.8 points per game) and junior guard Leilani Mitchell (17.9 ppg) lead the conference in scoring. Mitchell also leads the WAC in assists (5.9), steals (4.2), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.60) and minutes played (38.5).

"They play really well together," Bolla said of Faurholt and Mitchell. "They kind of look for each other. It's going to be a challenge for us."

Hawai'i worked to improve its decision-making this week after committing a season-high 32 turnovers in a 66-61 loss to visiting Nevada Saturday.

After a lackluster start in practice Monday, Bolla told his players to leave the gym, and said, "come back when you're ready to practice."

After a brief break, the players returned and "had a better practice," Bolla said.

Hawai'i also worked on attacking full-court pressure, which Idaho will likely try tonight, Bolla said.

"When we attack it, we want to get a layup or a 5-foot bank shot off of it," he said.

In four of its last five losses, Hawai'i had opportunities to win or tie the games in the second half. However, such problems as poor free-throw shooting, turnovers and lack of a finishing touch doomed the team.

"I think that's the most frustrating to coaches and players, as bad as we're playing, we're still in these games," Bolla said. "The only game we haven't been in is Fresno. We just need to get over that hurdle."

After tonight's game, the Rainbow Wahine will play at San Jose State Saturday.

Reach Brandon Masuoka at bmasuoka@honoluluadvertiser.com.