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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 9, 2006

Rainbow Wahine down and out after 72-63 loss

Rainbow Wahine basketball photo gallery

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i's Amy Sanders battles Boise State's Jackie Lee, left, and Benita Buggs at the WAC Tournament.

RICH PEDRONCELLI | Associated Press

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RENO, Nev. A season of ups and downs may have come to an end in a game of ups and downs for the University of Hawai'i women's basketball team yesterday.

The Rainbow Wahine experienced a second-half collapse in a 72-63 upset loss to Boise State in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament yesterday at the Lawlor Events Center.

Hawai'i, which was the No. 3 seed, led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but was outscored 42-28 in the second half by the No. 6-seeded Broncos.

"The second half, something just wasn't right," Hawai'i head coach Jim Bolla said. "We just weren't in sync. We weren't blocking out (for rebounds) and we couldn't get a shot to drop for us."

As a result, it was the third consecutive year of one-and-done in the WAC Tournament for the Rainbows.

Hawai'i dropped to 18-10, and must now wait for a possible invitation to the Women's NIT. The field will be announced Monday.

"50-50," Bolla said of Hawai'i's chances. "All of it is not in our control anymore. Lot of it is going to depend on what kind of upsets there are."

A victory yesterday might have secured a WNIT bid for the Rainbows, who opened the game like they were on their way.

Hawai'i went 7 of 15 from 3-point range in the first half. Janevia Taylor's 3-pointer with 9:33 remaining in the half gave UH a 31-18 lead.

Hawai'i eventually took a 35-30 lead at intermission, with Taylor and Dalia Solia hitting three 3-pointers each in the half.

Solia finished with a team-high 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Taylor added 15 points, and Amy Sanders had 13. However, Solia and Taylor combined to score just five points in the second half.

Boise State opened the second half with a 13-2 run to take a 43-37 lead it would not lose the rest of the way.

Michelle Hessing, a 6-foot-2 junior center, led the Broncos' rally. She scored 15 of her game-high 17 points in the second half. She shot 6 of 10 from the field and also grabbed 10 rebounds. During one stage of the second half, she scored 11 consecutive points for Boise State.

"First half, I went out and nothing was falling, but I still got (shots) up," Hessing said. "So second half, I told myself, 'they can't stop me. Just go strong and it's my game.' "

Boise State head coach Gordy Presnell said it was a matter of his team surviving the first-half barrage of 3s by Hawai'i.

"I told the team there's no way they're going to shoot like that the whole game," he said. "The second half ... we hit some shots and (Hessing) started going to work down on the block and things kind of went our way."

After the impressive first half, Hawai'i shot just 33.3 percent from the field in the second half (8 of 24), including just 11.1 percent from 3-point range (1 of 9).

The Rainbows also went 13 of 24 from the free throw line (54.2 percent), and got out-rebounded 44-36.

"I think a lot of it was our shooting," Sanders said. "(Boise State) played good defense, but we were just off. We just weren't making the shots we were making in the first half."

Prior to yesterday's game, Hawai'i was shooting just 28.0 percent as a team from 3-point range, so Bolla said he expected the Rainbows to cool off in the second half.

However, he said a plan to score points in the low post never materialized.

"A lot of our shots weren't even close (in the second half) we had a couple of air balls," Bolla said. "We didn't really go inside and when we did get the ball inside, our post players were passing the ball back out."

Starting center Tanya Smith had four points and one rebound. Hawai'i's tallest player, 6-4 Brittany Grice, returned from a one-game suspension and finished with six points and two rebounds off the bench. Both centers fouled out.

The Broncos, 15-14, also got 12 points and 12 rebounds from Rebecca Kepilino. Jackie Lee added 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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