Rainbows stop San Jose State
By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Kyle Sakamoto
University of Hawai'i women's basketball coach Jim Bolla answered questions from the media in the tunnel leading to the locker room last night, but couldn't help peeking out toward the court for amusement.
He was looking at his four lei-covered seniors who won the final home game of their careers, 57-49 over San Jose State.
"It's kind of funny looking at them," Bolla said. "May be you see an eye and a nose on some of them. It's a tribute to the kids and the support from the community."
It was a couple of non-seniors who keyed the victory before 985 at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Brittany Grice had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Tanya Smith added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Hawai'i, which has won six of its last seven to improve to 17-8 overall and 8-6 in the Western Athletic Conference.
The two post players combined to go 13 of 19 from the field. The rest of the team went 7 of 36.
"We weren't shooting the ball real well from the outside so we wanted to pound it in," Bolla said.
It was Senior Night for Amy Sanders, Callie Spooner, Brittney Aiwohi and Emily Helmly. Sanders finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and the other three entered in the last minute.
"It was nice to send them out with a win," Bolla said. "I would have liked to have got them in earlier than with less than a minute remaining. But with what was happening during the game we couldn't get them in."
Sanders received a lei from former Rainbow Wahine coach Vince Goo as she talked with the media after the game. Goo recruited Sanders and stepped down after her sophomore year.
"It means a lot," Sanders said of her UH career. "More than what I thought. The team is awesome, playing so well."
Grice added: "I couldn't think of any more people more deserving of a good win tonight. I'm so happy for them and for our team."
The Rainbow Wahine went on an 11-2 run to take a 49-39 advantage with 4:16 left. Smith scored six consecutive points during the surge.
"They went on a big run and got some good things," San Jose State coach Janice Richard said. "We just didn't recover. We played panicky at that point."
Hawai'i's offensive struggles included 1 of 14 from 3-point range and 24 turnovers.
"We passed up too many open shots," Bolla said. "When we had an open shot we put it on the floor and with these kind of teams, they're so athletic, you're helping them because you give them a chance to make an adjustment defensively."
The Rainbows played the entire game in their new-look amoeba zone defense.
"It works better against this team because we match up well," Smith said.
San Jose State (11-14, 6-8) shot a season-low 25 percent from the field (17 of 68), and committed 18 turnovers.
Hawai'i's final two regular-season games will be at New Mexico State on March 2 and at Louisiana Tech on March 4. The WAC tournament is March 7 to 11 at Reno, Nev.
Reach Kyle Sakamoto at firstname.lastname@example.org.