Olivia Davies made a good first impression in her limited time on the Stan Sheriff Center floor on Tuesday night.
Unfortunately for Davies and Hawaii, it’s not clear when the true freshman will get a chance at a second.
The 5-foot-9 guard went down clutching her left leg after playing just four first-quarter minutes in the Rainbow Wahine’s 76-71 exhibition victory over Hawaii Pacific. She returned to the bench in the second half on crutches and with her leg heavily wrapped.
UH coach Laura Beeman had to deal with a shortage of bodies throughout this preseason — including Davies not being able to play full contact for some of it — but brought in 10 or 11 ready to go Tuesday. The loss of Davies knocked that down to nine or 10.
The Wahine open the regular season next Tuesday at home against San Diego State.
“We’re confident in our 1 through 10, 1 through 11. Injuries are a part of it. We’re knocking on wood and sending our prayers for Liv, and hopefully she’s OK,” Beeman said. “Whatever the outcome is, we’re going to move forward.”
Confidence was a good word, because Davies appeared to have no shortage of it from the moment she touched the ball.
With UH off to a slow start, trading baskets with the Division II Sharks, Davies checked in a few minutes into the game and promptly had a drive and dish to Jadynn Alexander for a 3 and an 11-8 lead. The next trip down, Davies drove the lane again, this time dumping it off to Lauren Rewers for an easy bucket inside.
Later, senior guard Courtney Middap had to hoist one up against the shot clock and Davies’ hustle on the rebound extended the possession for UH.
The native of Anchorage, Ak. was in the middle of a dribbling move with a minute left in the quarter when she tried to reverse direction, unsuccessfully, and went down in pain. She was helped off the floor by athletic trainer Erin Tillman.
Senior guard Julissa Tago, who poured in a game-high 23 points, also hobbled off late after blocking a Shark’s shot. But she recovered well enough to make it to the postgame interview table.
If Tuesday was any indication, Tago will be hoisting early and often this season. It’s something she’s done for spurts in the past but never on a consistent basis.
“Yeah, I mean, I’ve always really had the green light with Coach B,” Tago said. “I just feel like this year I’m in better shape. I’ve been getting in the gym a lot more, so I’m more confident. But I’ve always had the green light, I just never showed it. I think I have a different mentality, for sure this year.”
Amy Atwell added 13 points, Alexander had 11 and Rewers 10 with eight rebounds in UH’s first public action, though unofficial, since the 2018-19 season concluded at 15-17 (10-6 Big West), with an appearance in the Big West championship game followed by a WNIT one-and-done.
Sophomore forward Myrrah Joseph, who’s expected to have a big role this season, got in foul trouble and scored three points in six minutes.
— Hawaii Warrior World (@hawaiiwworld) October 30, 2019
Also making her UH debut, unofficially, was freshman point guard Nae Nae Calhoun, the apparent playmaking successor to two-year starter Tia Kanoa. The 5-foot-5 Calhoun had nine points on 4-for-8 shooting, with two assists, four turnovers and a steal. She started off tentatively but sank some floaters and showed an ability to dribble in tight spaces.
Her older teammates mostly approved.
“As Coach said, it’s tough starting a point guard freshman year,” Atwell said. “We have a playbook, and I think she’s still getting her head around what each look is and each play, but she’s done a really good job so far and I think she’s just gotta learn to play with her pace, because she’s quick and she can get down the floor. So, she’s definitely not playing like a freshman.”
Freshman forward Makayla Edwards appeared for six-plus minutes, going 0-for-1 from the field with a rebound. Not playing were junior college transfer center Barbara Rangel, freshman forward Kasey Neubert and sophomore guard Lamarria Johnson.
Reid Takatsuka’s Sharks never led, but to their credit hung around throughout. They were led by Australian Alysha Marcucci, who scored 18, and Roosevelt alumna Starr Rivera, who came off the bench to put in 16.
Beeman wasn’t happy with the officiating, despite her team going to the line 38 times to HPU’s 14; she picked up a technical in the final minute, which she said was just the second in her 25-year coaching career.
But the eighth-year UH coach credited HPU for its coaching and pedigree as an annual contender at the top of the PacWest.
“They outplayed us as far as effort tonight. They acted like a team that knew what was at stake,” she said. “Here they come onto our court, a Division II team trying to beat a Division I team, and they played that way. They had a great sense of urgency. … For us, we have to find a sense of urgency on the defensive side of the ball.”