UPDATE: UH defeated UNLV 66-61 in overtime on the first day of the Duel in the Desert, and first game of the holiday trip.
UPDATE PART II: UH was routed 73-48 by Megan Huff and Utah in the Duel title game.
UPDATE PART III: UH lost a tough one in overtime at Nevada to cap off the three-game road trip.
It’s a Laura Beeman staple.
The Hawaii women’s basketball team has traveled to the West Coast — or slightly inland — for two or three games over the Christmas holiday period every year during her tenure, with the exception of her first season of 2012-13. And so it is again in 2018-19, as UH departed Monday for Las Vegas and the two-game Duel in the Desert tournament Wednesday and Friday. The team will then split up for Christmas and reconvene right afterward for a Dec. 29 game at Nevada before coming home.
Some of it is sentimentality. But a lot of it is practicality.
“It’s just better to get the girls off island, so when they go home it’s cheaper for them,” Beeman said before the team left. “So they can, you know, from California, go someplace home. So we fly them out there and we fly them back. So really they just have to take care of the middle part of the trip.
“We like to get off island this time of year. And it’s also because so much activity’s going on here with the Diamond Head (Classic) and everything else; we don’t have a place to house and live. It’s just better for us to go.”
This is UH’s second showing in the Duel in the Desert — and second straight year in it — under Beeman. Last time, things didn’t go so well, as the Wahine had to face ranked foes Texas A&M and Oregon (see below). But, they also upset Arizona in Tuscon on that trip, so it wasn’t all for naught.
This time the Wahine (3-7) open against host UNLV (1-8) at 10 a.m. (HST) Wednesday and will follow against Florida (3-7) or Utah (9-0) at a time to be determined on Friday. The second game will be a challenge, no doubt, especially if it’s against Utah and former Wahine standout Megan Huff. But UH will have the advantage of a day of rest, as the Gators and the Utes play on Thursday.
The games will be live streamed on FloHoops.com. You can access the specific URL here.
Whether or not UH keeps its unblemished December going (its stated goal is a 5-0 month and it is 2-0 so far) the team will disperse out of Vegas and has can look forward to a couple days with family. At least, the players from the Western U.S. will, and that’s seven of 13 on the roster.
“It’s so much fun. Yeah, we have these two games, but it’s like we’re with family,” said junior forward Kenna Woodfolk, a native of Tacoma, Washington. “So we go from being with (team) family, to being with family again. So it’s never like ‘oh, I just want to go home with family.’ We’re always around family. So it’s really good. We have fun, but when we know we gotta lock in, we lock in.”
Senior forward Lahni Salanoa recently returned to action coming off a foot injury. She and her sister Leah, of Oxnard, Calif., have treasured these holiday trips.
“It’s definitely my favorite time, because I get to see my family,” Lahni Salanoa said. “One thing that I always, am not dreading, but am iffy, we only have a couple days with our family. But other than that, it’s fun just being with the girls. Even when we’re on break with our families, we miss each other. We always text each other, like ‘I can’t wait to see you.’ I’m just excited.”
Here’s how the Wahine have fared on their past holiday trips under Beeman. The games fall between Dec. 15 and 29 of that year.
2012: No trip
2013: at USC, 66-55 L; at Grand Canyon, 54-51 L
2014: at Loyola Marymount, 85-76 W; at Cal State Bakersfield, 78-69 L
2015: at Sacramento State, 74-72 W; at San Jose State, 76-73 W; at Cal State Bakersfield, 65-55 W
2016: at Nevada, 67-59 L, 3OT; at Boise State, 61-49 L
2017: at Arizona, 65-60 W; vs. Texas A&M, 103-59 L, Las Vegas; vs. Oregon, 85-44 L, Las Vegas
2018: at UNLV, 66-61 W OT; vs. Utah, 73-48 L; at Nevada, 79-78 L OT