Hawaii basketball: Rainbow Warriors and Wahine both fill the buckets in wins Sunday

The Hawaii bench reacted after Justin Webster made a basket in the second half of Sunday's game against the Samford Bulldogs. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

If you had to pick a genre for that Sunday double feature matinee at the Stan Sheriff Center it would definitely not be drama.

There was little of that as the University of Hawaii women (6-5) took the hope away from Hope International with a 16-0 run leading to a 86-49 final score and then the UH men (7-3) never trailed in blowing out Samford 94-73. It was the most points and widest margin of victory for both Hawaii teams this season.

Some would be tempted to call it comedy based on the lopsided scores, or horror for the same reason.

All of that has to be tempered, though, by remembering that Hope is an NAIA school. Samford, of the Southern Conference, could be considered more of a peer-group member for the Rainbow Warriors, who play in the Big West (both are considered mid-majors). But the Bulldogs came into this game very far from their Birmingham, Ala., home with a 1-5 road record. They’re now 6-6 overall.

Punching down is not considered good comedy. Both UH squads had just come from punching up on the road the previous weekend: The women winning at Washington, the men losing at Oregon.

OK, bear with this day-at-the-cinema analogy just a little bit longer. What we did see in both full-length features is a cast member or two step up from featured background to co-star status.

I don’t have the algorithm to research how many schools went into action Sunday with both their men’s and women’s teams starting the same five players in every game this season.

Whatever it was, the number is at least one less now, as the Wahine started freshman Myrrah Joseph at forward and senior Courtney Middap at guard, replacing Amy Atwell and Nae Nae Calhoun.

Atwell and Calhoun are “day-to-day” UH coach Laura Beeman said. Beeman declined to elaborate, but it will be a surprise if they do not play in Saturday’s game at Idaho. This was a chance for them to rest some nagging minor injuries and for some bench players to gain experience.

Joseph responded with 15 points in a little less than 18 minutes. Middap isn’t a newcomer, except to the starting lineup this season; and how about this: 10 assists and zero turnovers.

That’s almost as striking as freshman forward Kasey Neubert’s star turn coming off the bench. She scored 22 points in 20:47 of action, making all eight of her shots from the floor and all six of her free throws.

Dakota Viena of Hope scored 22 points, too. But the former Maryknoll star missed one of her eight shots from the floor (a 3-point try) and five of her 11 free throw attempts. Still, it was quite the outing for the daughter and nephew of Waipahu legends Dean and Dino Viena.

Undersized Hope kept on scrapping, despite Hawaii pulling farther and farther away.

“You know Hawaii girls, they’re always going to play hard,” said Dean Viena. Dakota’s Maryknoll classmates Rhianne Omori and Ysabelle Halemano also play for Hope.

There was no local connection for the Samford men, but the Bulldogs kept battling, too, despite the score. And they got themselves back into the game when UH point guard Drew Buggs had to sit with two fouls in the first half. But after they closed to 40-36 late in the period, Samuta Avea, Eddie Stansberry (3-pointer) and Dawson Carper got the UH lead back to double digits at halftime.

At times, the game was a little more run-and-gun than Hawaii usually plays. The Warriors jacked up 3-pointers early in possessions several times rather than run off some clock, which would give Samford and its electrifying guard Josh Sharkey less of a chance to make the game competitive again.

But it worked out fine for Hawaii, as the Bulldogs made just 34 percent of their 41 second-half shots from the floor and the ‘Bows made 51 percent of their 35. Samford made two of six 3-pointers after the break, while UH made six of 17.

Stansberry took 16 shots from beyond the arc, breaking the school record of 14 that he had just tied in the Oregon loss, and had been shared by Tes Whitlock, Mike McIntyre and Carl English.

As a team, UH launched a season-high 33 3-balls Sunday, making a season-high 13.

“For sure we got a little 3-happy, but it’s a slippery slope,” said acting coach Chris Gerlufsen, noting that he didn’t want to restrain hot shooters from taking advantage of wide-open looks. “We probably should’ve went inside a little more. It’s a Catch-22 with the 3s. … It’s always good to improve after a win, and that might be one of (the areas), how to manage the clock when you’re up.”

This was the most points for the Hawaii men since they scored 114 in an overtime win over Long Beach State in 2017.

The young talent who showed his stuff in the men’s game was Justin Webster, whose 15 points is the most so far in his six-game career. You can see the freshman’s confidence grow with every minute he’s on the court. He was in for nearly 25 of them Sunday.


  1. Warrior Lifer December 16, 2019 6:49 am

    Back to back solid showings from Webster. He’s looking like he’s going to be a key bench contributor for UH, both as a 3rd guard in a small ball lineup with Buggs and Stansberry and a rotational guard that can spell Buggs or Stansberry some rest.

  2. Matt December 16, 2019 12:10 pm

    That’s one of the things I like about Webster. If the team could get a win against tough competition (Including conference foes CSUN, UC Irvine, and UCSB) with Webster in double-figures in terms of points, we could win a good majority of games, including with what is on tap for the DHC, starting with the Miners of UTEP. Hopefully, they’ll be fresh and ready to go.

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