Morgan Mason’s first snowfall helped the Hawaii point guard keep her cool when the tension rose on Sunday.
Mason grew up in Southern California and hadn’t seen snow until the Rainbow Wahine basketball team arrived in Colorado for their season opener last week.
“I was just outside playing like a little kid, throwing the snow around, rolling in it like no care in the world,” she said.
Mason said UH coach Laura Beeman told the Wahine to remember that carefree feeling before taking the floor against Denver on Sunday. So when UH’s composure was tested late in a tight ballgame, Mason heeded Beeman’s advice.
The senior came through when the Rainbow Wahine needed her most, accounting for UH’s final 12 points in the 60-58 win, hitting clutch shots — whether from the field or the foul line — in the final five minutes.
“(Beeman’s) analogy was ‘play in the snow,’ “ Mason said.
“She gave us that analogy in the locker room so when times come and things aren’t going your way to play in the snow and just let the pressure go and do what you’re supposed to do.”
Mason’s career-high 23-point performance helped her earn Big West player of the week honors on Monday and UH enters the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic at 2-0 for the first time since the 2002-03 season.
The Wahine opened the schedule with an overtime win at Colorado State last Friday and Sunday’s win at Denver marked the first time in program history that UH began a season with back-to-back victories on the road.
They’ll try to build on the early success in a challenging home stand that starts Friday against No. 14 California and includes matchups with UNLV on Sunday and No. 6 Stanford and No. 11 North Carolina in next week’s Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Shootout.
“We saw how far we’re able to mentally push ourselves,” Mason said. “Because we were in a different state with a different climate, we had to get over the hump of saying, ‘we’re not tired,’ we can keep going and continue to play defense and push the ball in the proper way.
“It definitely has shown a lot of growth for everybody.”
Through two games, Mason leads the Wahine in scoring with 15.5 points per game and is tied with Shawna-Lei Kuehu for the rebounding lead at 8.5 per game. She also has seven assists against five turnovers with three steals.
Beeman noted that the two wins might have gone the other way a season ago, when the Wahine were still adapting to the system.
“No offense to last year’s team, but we lose these games last year just because of a lack of experience, a lack of familiarity with the program,” Beeman said. “These guys really held it together great again (against Denver).”
With a little help from the snow.