Rainbow Wahine rally to beat Idaho, 71-62
By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Kyle Sakamoto
University of Hawai'i women's basketball coach Jim Bolla busted out his new-look amoeba defense last night against Idaho and got limited results.
He switched to a man-to-man defense in the second half, and positive results happened almost instantly in a 71-62 victory before 331 at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The key stretch was a 20-2 run by Hawai'i early in the second half, and the Rainbows also held a 48-29 rebounding advantage.
Hawai'i improved to 16-8 overall and 7-6 in the Western Athletic Conference. Idaho fell to 8-16 and 4-9.
Idaho did a nice job finding openings against Hawai'i's amoeba defense, going on a 12-4 run over the final 5:08 to take a 39-31 lead at halftime.
"We put a new defense in and it's only two days old," Bolla said. "I thought the first 10 minutes we played it well, then we got tired and we forgot how to play it."
Hawai'i went to a man-to-man defense to open the second half, and Idaho took its largest lead at 43-32 on a jumper from the top of the key by Jessica Summers.
Then the Rainbow Wahine answered with their decisive run, which gave them a 52-45 lead with 10:02 remaining. Junior forward Dalia Solia capped the run with consecutive 3-pointers.
Idaho went without a field goal for a span of 9 minutes, 30 seconds.
"We pride ourselves a lot on not letting people score against us," Hawai'i junior center Brittany Grice said. "We don't get to play man-to-man very often. So when we get the opportunity we relish it."
Grice led Hawai'i with 18 points, senior guard Amy Sanders added 16 and sophomore forward Tanya Smith had 14.
Idaho has only one senior on its roster and played only six players last night.
"We're so young and not deep so every mistake gets accentuated," Idaho coach Mike Divilbiss said.
Hawai'i shot 14 of 30 from the field in the second half, and held Idaho to 6 of 24. The Rainbows also forced nine of their 15 turnovers after halftime.
"The man-to-man pumps us up a lot more," Smith said. "In the first half, we were a little confused because the defense is new."
Bolla said the first-half defensive look was "the real amoeba defense, it's a 1-3-1 zone. It was non-traditional slides and how you defend things."
He added the alignment was two guards at the top, two big players on the wings and an athlete on the baseline.
Grice was 5 of 7 from the field and scored 13 points in the second half, including eight consecutive Rainbow Wahine points late in the game.
"We ran a lot of plays that gave me a lot opportunities," she said. "I got so many good passes."
Grice missed Hawai'i's previous game against Utah State to be with her mother in Redondo Beach, Calif. Her mother is undergoing cancer treatment.
"It was so hard for me to not play," Grice said. "It was a surreal experience to be away from my team. I love to be in on the action."
Hawai'i's final home game will be Saturday against San Jose State. It'll be the final game in the Stan Sheriff Center for Sanders, forward Brittney Aiwohi, center Callie Spooner and guard/forward Emily Helmly.
Reach Kyle Sakamoto at email@example.com.