Grice returns to Rainbow Wahine lineup
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Brandon Masuoka
Hawai'i returns one of its top players tonight when it hosts Idaho in a Western Athletic Conference women's basketball game.
Starting junior center Brittany Grice will be in the lineup after missing the Rainbow Wahine's 63-50 victory at Utah State Saturday. Grice was granted permission by coach Jim Bolla to return to California last week and visit her mother, Dianne, who is undergoing cancer treatment.
"It's good to be back with the team," said Grice, who returned Sunday. "It's really nice to be with a team I consider my second family.
"It's a lot of mixed emotions. I feel more resolved. I feel I have a better grasp of the situation. You feel a little out of the loop when your whole family is 2,500 miles away from you. I just understand how my mom's treatments are working, and the ups and downs of the situation."
Grice — who missed a game for the first time in her career, breaking a string of 76 consecutive games, and 55 straight starts — is one of the team's leaders, and most dominating inside player.
She leads the WAC in blocked shots and ranks 16th nationally at 2.5 per game. She leads the team in rebounds (7.6) and is third in scoring (11.2).
"Our priorities are family first, school second and basketball after those priorities," Bolla said. "It's the first game she's missed. We're hoping she'll be a little refreshed."
Hawai'i (15-8 overall, 6-6 WAC) has won four of its past five games, and is tied for fourth in the nine-team WAC. Idaho (8-15, 4-8) has lost seven of its last eight games, and is seventh.
The Vandals have the top two scorers in the WAC in Emily Faurholt (17.7 ppg) and Leilani Mitchell (17.2 ppg). Mitchell also leads the WAC in assists (5.6), steals (4) and minutes played (38.5).
Bolla said his squad will play balanced, team defense on Faurholt and Mitchell. Hawai'i defeated host Idaho, 66-60, in the last meeting Feb. 2. Faurholt had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Mitchell had 12 points, five assists and five rebounds.
"They're really good players," Bolla said. "They're going to get their points. They can score inside and outside. They're mobile. They can take you off the dribble, and if you don't come out to play them, they'll shoot the three."
Bolla wants his team to control the tempo and be efficient on offense. In its past five games, Hawai'i has been pretty efficient on running set plays, Bolla said, and either getting fouled or getting baskets.
"Even in Utah, we didn't shoot a good percentage (27 percent), but we really ran a lot of sets well, and got fouled a lot," Bolla said of Saturday's victory in Logan, Utah. "Luckily, we stepped up to the line, and made a bunch of free throws."
The Rainbow Wahine shot a season-best 86 percent from the foul line (25 of 29) against Utah State.
Hawai'i is projected to start guards Janevia Taylor (12.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.5 apg) and Amy Sanders (12.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.8 apg), forwards Dalia Solia (6.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.0 apg) and Pam Tambini (9.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.5 apg) and Grice (11.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.1 apg).
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