Rainbow Wahine win WAC opener
Janevia Taylor scored 20 points, and the University of Hawai'i women's basketball team escaped with a 79-74 Western Athletic Conference victory against host Nevada last night.
Hawai'i (10-2, 1-0) won its eighth consecutive game despite squandering a 14-point, second-half lead in the conference opener for both teams.
The win streak is Hawai'i's longest since the 1999-00 season when the team went 20-9 and earned a trip to the Women's National Invitation Tournament.
"Any win on the road is a good win," Hawai'i coach Jim Bolla said. "And having your first conference game on the road is a good test."
The Rainbow Wahine overcame a 28-point performance from Nevada's Meghan McGuire, who scored 17 second-half points, including 11 in a row for her team during one stretch.
"McGuire got hot," Bolla said. "She likes to play against us, and scores a bunch of points playing us."
McGuire, a 6-foot sophomore forward, scored 16 in Nevada's 65-61 WAC Tournament victory over Hawai'i last season, and had 20 points in a Jan. 1, 2005, game.
Hawai'i's Tanya Smith added 16 points, and Amy Sanders and Alofa Toiaivao had 14 each. Toiaivao also had nine rebounds, and Smith eight.
Jessica Preslar scored 12 points and Brandi Fitzgerald 10 for Nevada (3-9, 0-1).
Nevada erased a 14-point, second-half deficit and took a 71-69 lead on Traci Graham's 3-pointer with 2:59 left in the game.
Hawai'i tied the game at 71 on Dalia Solia's basket, and took a 73-71 lead when Sanders stole the ball and Taylor scored on a putback.
After another basket by Solia, Nevada cut the deficit to 75-74 on a 3-point play by Dellena Criner with 1:06 left.
Hawai'i responded with Sanders' foul-line jumper for a 77-74 lead, and Toiaivao blocked McGuire's 3-point attempt with 36 seconds remaining.
"The last four minutes, we buckled down and played really good (man-to-man) defense, and we got some key buckets," Bolla said. "A year ago we probably wouldn't have finished this game. Now we're finishing games."
A pair of Sanders foul shots with 4.6 seconds left ended scoring.
Bolla said Taylor played despite a sore hip, and Sanders overcame a brief relapse of her stomach ailment that required a trip to the hospital last month.
Hawai'i returns home to host WAC favorite Louisiana Tech, Jan. 12, and New Mexico State, Jan. 14.