No quit in UH as it falls to Fresno, 65-50
By Chris Gabel
Special to The Advertiser
By Chris Gabel
RENO, Nev. — After all that the University of Hawai'i women's basketball team had been through this season, it could have easily been content with its victory in the play-in game of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
That certainly would have been acceptable to an outsider.
After all, the Rainbow Wahine had not won a postseason game in six years and were up against top-seeded Fresno State in yesterday afternoon's quarterfinals. The Bulldogs won the previous two meetings by an average of 27 points.
But even after suffering through a 7-22 regular season and having its head coach put on paid leave, Hawai'i chose not to go quietly into the night in a 65-50 loss to the Bulldogs at the Lawlor Events Center.
"I look back on the season and look at each one of my teammates and my coaches, and we never put our heads down," Hawai'i senior guard Catherine Cho said. "We didn't start out like we wanted to and we kept losing, but we never put our heads down and made a push at the end of the season."
That push included a strong first half yesterday, when the Rainbow Wahine played toe to toe with the conference's best and trailed just 33-32 at halftime.
"We were hoping to get an upset," Hawai'i acting head coach Pat Charity said. "We scared them, though."
In the end, it was a cold-shooting second half and too many 3-pointers from the Bulldogs that derailed Hawai'i's upset bid.
The eighth-seeded Rainbow Wahine (8-23) shot 19 percent (5 of 26) in the second half and Fresno State connected on 11 3s in a tournament-record-tying 33 attempts.
Fresno State's Bailey Amundsen scored all of her 18 points in the first half on six 3s, which also tied a tournament record.
But she had help from long range in the second half, and the Bulldogs (22-8) were able to pull away. They will face No. 5 seed Utah State in one of today's semifinals.
"We did a good job in the first half, kept it close when (Amundsen) made all those 3s," Charity said. "We made some adjustments at halftime and then the ball just wouldn't fall for us. Fresno is a great team, and you just can't shoot 19 percent in the second half like that and hope to win."
Junior Megan Tinnin led Hawai'i with 15 points, including three 3-pointers, and seven rebounds. Cho added eight points and senior Tara Hittle, in her second game after missing three weeks with a knee injury, had seven.
"Before the game we had a good feeling," Tinnin said. "In our position, we had nothing to lose with Fresno (being the) No. 1 seed. But it was a big game for us to come out and just play hard. I think what we accomplished is playing as a team.
"Like coach said, we scared them."
Hindering Hawai'i's chances was the foul trouble point guard Keisha Kaneoka was in all game. She played just 18 minutes, took one shot and did not score.
Still, the Rainbow Wahine gained some respect from Fresno State.
"Every team has a goal to become WAC champs and make it to the NCAAs," said the Bulldogs' Joh-Teena Filipe, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds, "and Hawai'i came in here and never gave up and kept coming at us and coming at us."