Wahine look to build on road win

Rainbow Wahine freshman Julissa Tago scored a season-high 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field in UH's 87-79 win at Cal Poly on Thursday. Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser
Rainbow Wahine freshman Julissa Tago scored a season-high 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field in UH’s 87-79 win at Cal Poly on Thursday. Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser

After a review of the Rainbow Wahine basketball team’s win at Cal Poly on Thursday, Sarah Toeaina’s point total wasn’t a career high after all. But the stat correction did little to take the shine off the individual and collective performances in UH’s first road win of the season.

Toeaina was initially credited with 25 points in the 87-79 win at Cal Poly’s Mott Athletics Center. UH issued a correction on Friday stating that a first-quarter basket scored by freshman Keleah-Aiko Koloi was incorrectly given to Toeaina. After the adjustment Toeaina finished with 23 points and her 24 points against San Jose State on Nov. 25 remains her career best.

Toeaina did set a career high with six of UH’s season-best 16 assists and Briana Harris tied her most productive scoring night with a now game-high 24 points with four assists.

Harris and Toeaina shot a combined 13-for-23 from the field to lead UH’s most efficient offensive performance of the season — by far. The Wahine (6-10, 2-2 Big West) entered the game last in the Big West in scoring (56.1 points per game) and shooting percentage (34.8), but hit nine of 14 shots in the first quarter and finished at 56.9 percent while posting their second highest point total of the season.

Although the Wahine had struggled from the field for much of the season, UH coach Laura Beeman could sense a breakthrough coming.

“We’ve definitely seen for along time that if we can get it rolling we can have a very good shooting night,” Beeman said. “We just haven’t been able to put the pieces together.”

UH’s execution fueled the shooting performance, which included a breakout night for freshman Julissa Tago. The guard entered the game averaging 4.3 points while shooting 35 percent. She had her first double-digit performance by halftime and finished with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave UH a seven-point lead to close the third quarter.

She helped limit Cal Poly guard Dynn Leaupepe, the Mustangs’ leading scorer, to six points on the defensive end, grabbed three rebounds and had two assists with no turnovers.

“It’s really exciting for me as her coach to imagine what her next 3 1/2 years are going to be like at Hawaii when she plays with such ease and such confidence and executes well like she did tonight,” Beeman said. “It’s huge for that young lady to get on the floor, to be guarding one of the best players in our conference all night long and to be able to maintain her composure on the offensive end.”

Maintaining collective composure on the road was one of the issues Beeman wanted to see addressed and the Wahine mustered a response each time Cal Poly threatened their lead.

“We knew that third quarter was going to be a big test and the girls came out and punched back,” Beeman said.

The Wahine close the road trip on Saturday at UC Santa Barbara (8-9, 3-1), which knocked off first-place Long Beach State 65-60 on Thursday. Guard Sarah Porter led five Gauchos in double figures with 17 points and 13 rebounds and guard Drea Toler finished with 14 points off the bench. Porter began her career at Ole Miss and Toler transferred from Oregon. Drew Edelman, a 6-foot-4 forward, had 10 points and seven boards. Guard Onome Jemerigbe averages 9.1 points and ranks second in the Big West with 4.5 assists per game.

“They’ve got inside presence, they’ve got speed on the perimeter and they’ve got shooters. They’ve got the full package and they’re a veteran team to boot,” Beeman said. “So we definitely have our hands full. It’s a different game plan, both teams coming off of really big wins. … Hopefully as can sustain our energy and confidence going into Santa Barbara.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. Hawaii time at UCSB’s Thunderdome.

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