Size and depth were the most notable additions to the Hawaii women’s basketball team’s roster in the offseason and the Rainbow Wahine didn’t waste much time in utilizing both in Wednesday’s exhibition game against Hawaii Hilo.
The Wahine worked the ball to 6-foot-4 center Connie Morris on three of their first four possessions. On the first two she passed out to Ashleigh Karaitiana and Destiny King who hit open jumpers. The third time she touched the ball, Morris finished with a layup and the Wahine were off to a 15-0 run to open the game on their way to a 90-53 rout of the Division II Vulcans.
The inside-out attack figures to remain a staple of the Wahine offense this season.
“Although I played point guard in college I have been a post-dominant coach and I was a post-dominant point guard,” UH coach Laura Beeman said. “I wanted the ball to go inside because you stretch the defense when you do that. The defense has to make a decision, double down or play one-on-one.”
Morris had the first two of UH’s 20 assists in its lone exhibition game prior to the Nov. 14 season opener at Colorado State. She finished the night with nine points, four assists and two rebounds.
“It was fun, I missed it,” said Morris, who began her college career at Utah and played a season at Salt Lake Community College prior to signing with UH.
“The energy was so much fun. (Beeman) said we were going to come out here and get our nerves out the first few minutes. But with this group of girls it’s really fun and it’s easy to not have any nerves and just go out and play.”
Forward Dalayna Sampton, a 6-foot-1 freshman, contributed nine points and eight rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench. She was 7-for-10 from the free-throw line and also had an assist.
“In most instances this year with Connie’s size and Dalayna’s ability to get great depth we’re going to able to go inside,” Beeman said. “Other than the Stanfords and the Cals and the (North Carolinas), we’re going to have some height advantages. We need to get the ball inside. We can cut off of that action, we can skip the ball across the court. Every game we’re going to go inside and they’re going to have to stop us because we’re going to have some counters for that.”
Beeman said the full offensive package has yet to be implemented and her focus heading toward the opener will be on the defensive side of the court.
“Overall I thought our execution offensively was good. Defensively it’s average and needs to get better quickly,” she said.
All 13 players who suited up on Wednesday contributed to the point total and six had at
least two assists. The Wahine built a commanding lead with their two top returning scorers, Karaitiana and Shawna-Lei Kuehu combining for seven points in the first half. Kuehu eventually finished with 10 while Karaitiana had seven while limited by foul trouble.
UH shot just under 46 percent from the field and scored 48 points in the paint against the smaller Vulcans.
“I don’t think we’re going to be limited like we’ve been in the past where it was (Kamilah Jackson) and Ashleigh and if we didn’t have those two we were just trying to pick points from anybody we could,” Beeman said. “This year we’re going to have an array of people who can score.”
Freshman Sarah Toeaina and senior Shawlina Segovia didn’t suit up for the game. Beeman said both were under the weather.