HONOLULU — Cal Poly scored the first five points of the second half Saturday night at Hawai'i to cut the deficit to single digits at the Stan Sheriff Center, but the Rainbow Wahine women's basketball team countered with a 7-0 run in response, regaining momentum on the way to a 70-52 Big West Conference win over the Mustangs.
Hawai'i started fast, moving in front 12-2 thanks to a 3-pointer from Julissa Tago with 3:25 left in the first quarter. Tago would also close the quarter with a jumper three seconds before the horn, sending UH to the second up 19-6.
Cal Poly rallied midway through the second quarter, as an 8-1 spurt fueled by back-to-back 3s from junior forward Hana Vesela & freshman guard Gianna Silvestri and a jumper from freshman guard Maddie Willett narrowed the gap to 21-14 with 4:18 to play to halftime. The Wahine (8-12, 4-3) finished the half strongly, however, heading to the break with a 31-17 advantage.
On the Mustangs' first possession of the second half, Vesela knocked down another 3, bringing Cal Poly (4-14, 1-6) within 31-20, followed by a layup from senior forward Katie Nunnelley which trimmed the deficit to 31-22 at the 7:36 mark.
Senior point guard Tia Kanoa, however — the Big West Player of the Week on Jan. 14 — answered with a jump shot on the ensuing trip up the floor, igniting the key 7-0 stretch, capped by a pair of free throws via Lauren Rewers to push the lead back to 38-22 with 5:37 to play in the period.
Tago hit another trifecta with 33 seconds remaining in the third, providing Hawai'i a 48-28 lead entering the fourth.
A 3 by junior forward Jonni Smith brought Cal Poly within 54-38 with 6:26 left in regulation, but UH struck back with one more 7-0 surge, taking the largest lead of the evening (61-38) with 4:47 to play.
Mustang senior center Devin Stanback scored a team-high eight points in addition to corralling five rebounds in 22 minutes, while Nunnelley led the way on the glass with seven boards.
Jadynn Alexander paced the Wahine with 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting (including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc), complemented by a 3-for-4 showing at the foul line.
Cal Poly will host Long Beach State at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, continuing the homestand in Mott Athletics Center against UC Davis at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9.
File Photo © David E. Holmes