Rainbow Wahine say goodbye to home fans while earning double-bye in tourney

Perfection is a goal rarely achieved in sport, but one this Hawaii women’s basketball team can lay claim to at home in Big West play.

The Rainbow Wahine closed out a 10-0 record against conference opponents at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center this season with a 62-51 win over UC Riverside on Saturday night.


Daejah Phillips, a Player of the Year contender in the Big West, finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals and Jacque David added 11 points and eight rebounds for Hawaii (18-9, 15-3).

A crowd of 3,229 watched the Rainbow Wahine secure one of the two double-byes into the semifinals of the Big West Tournament in Henderson, Nev., in two weeks, where they will go for a third consecutive conference title.

UH will get the No. 1 seed with a win in either of its final two regular season games on the road next week at Cal State Northridge and Cal State Bakersfield, or with a loss by UC Irvine.

“This is a good conference, and to be able to (go undefeated at home) not healthy has been even more difficult,” Hawaii coach Laura Beeman said. “Sometimes we have played really ugly basketball, but this team has always found a way to win. Our goal was to protect home court and I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

Hawaii honored guards Olivia Davies and Ashley Thoms in the postgame senior night festivities after both made their presence felt on the court.

Davies, a fifth-year junior who will not return next season after battling injuries her entire collegiate career, made back-to-back 3-pointers to start the second half and help the Rainbow Wahine lead by as many as 20 in the third quarter.

Thoms, who is in her third season with UH after transferring from Weber State, helped hold Jordan Webster, the Big West’s leading scorer at 17.4 points per game coming in, to 10 points on 1-for-14 shooting from the field.

Webster’s only basket came on a fast-break layup with 4:06 left in the game for the Highlanders (16-12, 11-7), who beat Hawaii at home earlier this season with Webster scoring 28 points.

“We’re not done yet, so we’ve got to keep going. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, but tonight was really special,” Thoms said. “(Webster) got us the first game and we knew what adjustment we needed to make and I think we did a good job.”

UC Riverside shot 29 % (16-for-55) from the field. Makayla Jackson, who scored a game-high 20 points, accounting for half of its field goals.

Hawaii sophomore forward Imani Perez missed her second straight game.

“They wanted to win for the seniors,” Beeman said. “They wanted to end this season at home on a great note and they wanted to continue our trajectory upward. We have two rough road games and then we’re going to Henderson. We want the No. 1 (seed) and we’ve got to continue to play really good basketball.”

A trio of Hawaii reserves substituted in after the media timeout midway through the first quarter and immediately sparked a 7-0 run to help the Rainbow Wahine lead 14-11 after the first quarter.

Phillips scored on a driving layup the first possession she touched the ball and Davies buried her second 3 to put Hawaii back in front.

UH held the lead throughout the second quarter and built it as high as 12 before the Highlanders closed with a free throw to trail 30-19 at halftime.

The Highlanders shot 28% (7-for-25) from the field in the first half and Webster was shut out at the break in the scoring column, going 0-for-5 from the field.

Thoms and Davies kept the momentum in Hawaii’s favor to start the second half. Davies splashed a 3 from the right wing to start the scoring and then hit a second from the same spot after a Thoms steal on the other end to put UH ahead 36-19.

Webster’s first point came on a free throw with 6:49 remaining in the third quarter.

Phillips got wide open on a backdoor cut for a layup to force a Highlanders timeout with UH doubling them up at 40-20.

UC Riverside’s field-goal drought lasted more than nine minutes across the second and third quarters.

Matehya Bryant’s short turn-around jumper with 4:57 to go in the third quarter was just the eighth made field goal for the Highlanders in the game.

UC Riverside closed to 13 on two free throws by Bryant after she was whistled for an intentional foul and Thoms was called for a technical after a foul call on Hawaii.

The Highlanders had the ball down 11 in the fourth quarter with a chance to cut it to single digits. Webster tried to go coast-to-coast for her first field goal but was stripped near the key by Phillips.

Phillips took the ball back up the court and found MeiLani McBee open for a transition basket to push the lead back to 14.

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