Holiday trip an annual rite for Wahine

Hawaii forward Lahni Salanoa, seen here smiling after scoring against Hawaii Pacific on Dec. 9, has enjoyed UH's annual road trips around Christmastime. / Photo by Jamm Aquino, Star-Advertiser

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 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

Total: 6-9


  1. cappie the dog December 18, 2018 6:54 pm

    If you’re a glass half-full sort of person, Hawaii is only two points short of being .500.

    They are shooting the ball much better this season.

    I am crossing my fingers that Middap will be a consistent source of three-point shooting. This will make Woodfolk better. I think Atwell can shoot it, too. Small sample size, but high three-point field goal percentage.

  2. cappie the dog December 19, 2018 4:04 am

    I am glad that there is no bad blood between coach and player.

    I am rooting hard for a Hawaii/Utah matchup.

    It will get the Wahine prepared for Cal State-Northridge’s Channon Fluker.

    But I am pretty sure that the coach went through a process before reaching the acceptance stage.

    The program has gone a little off the rails since the player’s departure.

  3. cappie the dog December 20, 2018 4:17 am

    The team that was up by double digits is the team that can upset Utah.

    Neutral court.

    Anything can happen.

    Utah will be playing for a national ranking so they will be ready.

    Makenna Woodfolk is emerging as that much needed go-to player.

    For Hawaii to win, I don’t think you can have revolving leading scorer.

    Jadynn Alexander scored the most important bucket of her career. I hope this gives her confidence.

    I am confused. Did Clinch-Howard rejoin the team? I thought maybe the Vegas statistician made a mistake.

  4. cappie the dog December 20, 2018 12:02 pm

    Shock the women’s college basketball world.

    You can do it!

    You were up 16 points because you took care of the ball.

    Keep the turnovers under ten and YOU WILL WIN!

    Middap, you’re the closest thing to a pure shooter that this team has. Take care of the ball so the coach can leave you on the court.

  5. Brian McInnis December 20, 2018 2:55 pm

    Statistician’s mistake on Clinch Hoycard.

  6. cappie the dog December 20, 2018 9:01 pm

    I was so bewildered.

    I was looking at the GameCast.

    I did not want to pay fifteen dollars to watch the game.

    Tago wears #0 and Clinch-Howard last season wore #10.

    Was that the error, you think?

    I was wondering aloud: How can you play during the break if you weren’t enrolled in the fall?

  7. cappie the dog December 20, 2018 9:03 pm

    I feel like an on-point troll.

  8. H-Man December 20, 2018 9:30 pm

    Trying not to be pessimistic, but realistically, it will be a small victory if the Wahine can stay within 18 points. That should give them confidence going into conference play. Megan Huff will score 26 points against the Wahine. She’s been scoring more than 20 ppg the last 6 games; 28 against arch-rival BYU.

  9. cappie the dog December 21, 2018 6:00 am

    No, no, you are right.

    I am hoping that Utah is a paper tiger of sorts.

    They’re 10-0, in a Power 5 conference, and still unranked.

    Upsets happen on neutral courts.

    I know that UNLV had only won one game, but it is a great sign that Hawaii could go up eighteen points against ANYBODY.

    They are shooting better this season. They just need to take care of the ball. And get fouled. They shoot a good free throw percentage.

    This game is more important to me than the Hawaii Bowl.

    Tia Kanoa played well on the road against Arizona last season. I think she steps it up whenever she plays a team against her old conference.

    Can Woodfolk match up against Megan Huff?

  10. cappie the dog December 21, 2018 6:09 pm

    Hawaii played Stanford even for a quarter.

    Hawaii hung tough with Utah for a half.

    Only 13 turnovers today.

    13 turnovers against Big West opponents will result in wins.

  11. cappie the dog December 22, 2018 4:24 am

    I did not notice that last non-conference game.

    I wish it was at home.

    Nevada’s resume is pretty similar to UNLV.

    2-1 road trip would trip would signify that they could finish in the top half of their conference.

  12. cappie the dog December 29, 2018 2:56 pm

    Congratulations, Lauren Rewers on your break-out game.

    Now you are ready to take on Channon Fluker.

    Now you’re playing basketball!!!

    Keep it up.

  13. cappie the dog December 29, 2018 3:50 pm

    Houston thumped New Jersey Institute of Technology soundly.


    Who voted for these guys?

    He is not taking his responsibilities seriously.

    Hawaii can beat NJIT.

  14. cappie the dog December 30, 2018 4:59 am

    Third one-loss game.

    Hawaii could be 7-6.

    2017-2018: FG%/3PT FG%/FT%(39%/29%/68%)
    2016-2017: (37%/30%/67%)
    2018-2019: (42%/35%/73%)

    All across the board, their shooting numbers are up. This is not another 12-18 squad.

    The other two seasons: No can.
    This season: Can.

    Just gotta hold onto the ball.

  15. cappie the dog January 4, 2019 3:09 pm

    Today Utah faces their biggest test, #22 ranked Arizona State.

    I thought the Utes would break into the poll this week.

    On the women’s side, the standards are higher, I guess.

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