Rainbow Wahine clinch spot
While Western Athletic Conference champion Fresno State was pummeling San Jose State in women's basketball last night on the Mainland, the University of Hawai'i practiced for a season that was in the process of being extended.
The Bulldogs' 83-47 victory over the Spartans (6-22, 2-13 WAC) clinched a place in next week's WAC Tournament for the Rainbow Wahine (10-18, 4-11). Making the tournament had been one of the 'Bows' many goals in Dana Takahara-Dias' first season as coach. As the season was winding down, it became a priority.
"We always put ourselves in position to at least stay in the game in the second round," Takahara said. "I think it would have been a travesty if we ended our season prematurely. That would have been a negative on my part — if the players didn't have the opportunity to play more basketball. That would have been my responsibility."
Hawai'i, picked to finish last in the preseason poll, won its final home game a week ago to end a six-game losing streak and put it in position to clinch.
"It means a lot because we worked hard all year, we worked hard in the preseason," said UH sophomore Breanna Arbuckle. "We've only been playing together a couple months and it's really starting to click right now.
"We really don't want to lose. We really wanted to go to the WAC Tournament and see how far we could get."
Now the Rainbow Wahine have that opportunity. They close the regular season Saturday at Utah State. The winner earns the seventh seed while the loser gets the eighth — and final — seed and an opening round game against Fresno State.
Hawai'i hopes it can take only its second two-game winning streak of the season into the tournament.
"Winning (Saturday) would be a confidence boost," said sophomore Rebecca Dew. "So would knowing we're entering the tournament not at the bottom, but closer to the middle, where we feel we deserve to be. The win the other night helped our morale a lot."
San Jose State will finish last and not qualify for the tournament, which begins with four games Wednesday at Nevada's Lawlor Events Center. A year ago, the Rainbows were seeded eighth and lost in the first round to Fresno State.
"We've had our peaks and valleys this year," said sophomore Katie Wilson, "but going to the tournament will be awesome."