UPDATE: The Rainbow Wahine pulled out a 70-68 road win at UC Irvine on Thursday, extending their road winning streak to three games. Jadynn Alexander scored five points on one shot from the field and two free-throw attempts.
The Hawaii women’s basketball team has a collection of defensive-minded guards that coach Laura Beeman can call upon in a pinch.
Savannah Reier. Rachel Odumu. And Jadynn Alexander.
Of the three, Alexander has emerged as the biggest two-way threat for the Rainbow Wahine (8-12, 4-3 Big West), who take on UC Irvine (14-4, 4-2) in an ESPN3-broadcast game at Bren Events Center at 5 p.m. (HST) on Thursday. They follow that up with a trip to Long Beach State on Saturday, looking to remain in the top half of the conference standings after this week.
The 5-foot-10 sophomore from Monroe, Wash., is coming off her best offensive performance to date — 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting in Saturday’s 70-52 win over Cal Poly. It was the second time in her career she scored in double figures. The other was against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 24, seven games into the season.
After not hitting a 3-pointer her freshman season, she’s canned five this year. She effectively mixed an outside game with some strong drives against the Mustangs.
“Definitely something that’s developing,” Alexander said of her outside shot on Tuesday. “I’ve been working with my coaches outside on my shot. And then Coach Beeman, she’s given me the green light when I’m confident and my feet are set.”
She knows where her value to the team is on a night-to-night basis, though. She’s had a steal in six of the last eight games, playing 18 or fewer minutes in each of those games.
“Right now I think energy’s a big thing that I bring,” Alexander said. “I try to just bring defense, which kind of translates into the energy. Yeah, maybe looking to expand that, but energy’s a big thing that I can bring to the team.”
“She’s put the work in,” the coach said. “We have a lot of great guards on this roster but she’s playing well because she brings a little bit different type of energy for us. If we can her on the matchups right, then we’ll keep her on the floor. But she’s worked so hard over the last year and a half to put herself in position to be successful. As long as she’s making the right decisions on the floor, we’ll find time for her, absolutely.”
Meanwhile, the Wahine work to hone their consistency. There was the notable win against UC Davis (still the Aggies’ only league loss) and the even more remarkable 29-point performance in a loss to Cal State Northridge. They swept their last road trip, to Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, but had a lapse in a winnable game at home against UC Riverside before responding against Cal Poly to sweep that season series in their last game.
Beeman was asked if there is a poker tell with her team that gives her an indication of which group will show up.
“You don’t know. It really is kind of a feel we get in the locker room,” Beeman said. “If we feel like they’re focused and their energy’s good — but there have been games I feel like, ‘oh gosh, we’re not ready to go,’ and then we come out and play like gangbusters. There’s other times, ‘wow, I feel great about this game,’ and then we have those lulls. It’s more of the next-play mentality on the court. How we start the game, how we make adjustments, and really just what the next-play mentality is for this group.”