Coach Beeman gets 200th win as Hawaii thumps Cal State Bakersfield

Hawaii women’s basketball coach Laura Beeman made sure to have the top three assistants on her staff join her for Saturday’s postgame Zoom session with the local media.

All four of them were wearing lei and assistant coach Derrick Florence had a basketball net wrapped around his neck.


It wasn’t the net used in the Icardo Center for Hawaii’s 85-48 thumping of Cal State Bakersfield in its regular-season finale on Saturday in Bakersfield, Calif.

It was one the team bought on its own and passed around the visitors locker room after clinching Beeman’s 200th victory as Hawaii’s head coach.

“This is what we wanted to do. We wanted to have a dominating last game going into the tournament. We did not want there to be any doubt that we are the No. 1 team in this conference from start to finish,” Beeman said. “We didn’t think it would be appropriate to ask Bakersfield for a ladder and some scissors, so the staff went down to the local sporting goods place and bought a net. We did the makeshift celebration in the locker room teaching these kids how to cut down nets because that’s where we want to be Saturday night.”

Hawaii will ride a season-high seven-game winning streak into the tournament after its most dominant win of the season to give Beeman her fourth 20-win campaign in 12 years.

Hawaii (20-9, 17-3 Big West) had already earned the top seed in the conference tournament in Henderson, Nev., and will play Friday in the first semifinal at 9 a.m.

UH’s 85 points were a season high, as was the 37-point margin of victory.

Hawaii finished one shy of the school record with 17 3-pointers and shot 51.5% (17-for-33) from behind the 3-point line.

“Good ball movement. We always say as a staff when we move the ball, the ball finds the right person and the shot has a better chance of going in,” Beeman said. “Today, I thought our ball movement was really pretty. They played with a championship mentality, which is what we need this time of year.”

Junior point guard Lily Wahinekapu scored a season-high 22 points on 7-for-9 shooting for UH, which has won 11 of its past 12.

Daejah Phillips added 12 points and six rebounds off the bench and Kelsie Imai, a point guard, led Hawaii with eight rebounds and eight assists to go along with five points.

Sophomore forward Imani Perez, who missed the previous three games with an injury, returned to the starting lineup and had seven points and two rebounds in 10 minutes on the floor.

Brooklyn Rewers came off the bench and had six points and six rebounds in 14 minutes.

This was the first game this season Beeman had a full post-player rotation with Perez, Rewers and junior Jacque David, who finished with seven points and two boards, all playing in the same game.

“It was just amazing to see the chemistry and see that they all are feeling good and getting comfortable,” assistant coach Khalilah Mitchell said. “Literally just seeing what lineups work with each other and seeing what we have to do as we move to the tournament to see what would be the best lineups for who our opponents are.”

UH never trailed against the Roadrunners (8-21, 5-15), who were eliminated from making the conference tournament with the loss.

Hawaii started 9-for-9 from the field, with four of those makes from 3-point range. Perez, who hadn’t played since suffering an injury late in a road win over Long Beach State two weeks ago, hit the opening jumper from the top of the key before getting subbed out 91 seconds into the game.

Freshman Jade Peacock, in the starting lineup in place of Olivia Davies for the second consecutive game, drilled UH’s first 3-pointer, and Phillips came off the bench to hit two 3s and score nine points to help the Rainbow Wahine lead 25-10 at the 2:28 mark of the opening quarter.

CSUB closed within 25-14 by quarter’s end, but Hawaii opened the second period with an 8-0 run for a 19-point bulge.

But UH scored only four points the rest of the first half as the Roadrunners battled back to cut their deficit to 37-27 at intermission.

Hawaii then dominated the second half, outscoring CSU Bakersfield 48-21.

The Rainbow Wahine will remain on the road and wait six days before their start of the tournament on Friday.

“Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to take much for them to stay focused,” associate head coach Alex Delanian said. “They are super motivated, and so they will have a nice balance of life the next couple of days, but it’s not going to take much to rev their engine. They know what is in store.”

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