Hawaii basketball: UH women and men both hang close, then efficiently finish off their foes

Amy Atwell launched a 3-pointer as Hawaii made a program record 18 long balls in a win over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

Fear is a word that is never supposed to be uttered by a coach or athlete, an emotion never to be admitted to.

You don’t “fear” your opponent, you “respect” him or her.

Still, for our purposes here, both University of Hawaii basketball teams were “Fear Factor” contestants on Saturday. And both conquered those fears that they must describe in different words.

The women beat Cal State Fullerton 79-72, and the men topped UC Santa Barbara 70-63. They both came back from a halftime deficit — and they both kept a bucket-filling opposing player from spoiling the home team’s happy ending.


They had every reason to fear, respect, be very aware of — or however you want to describe the scoring prowess of Raina Perez and Max Heidegger.

Heidegger is one of those guys who seems like he’s been playing college hoops for 10 years … but it was just two seasons ago when he led the Big West in scoring.

He’s always especially dangerous against UH, and over the years has made himself a candidate for the ‘Bows’ all-time nemesis team.

Heidegger scored 20 in UH’s embarrassing 75-54 home loss last year. And he had 25 two years ago in an 84-82 OT loss at the Gauchos’ place.

He’s to be feared, even coming off missing all of December recovering from a concussion.

But the Rainbow Warriors kept him contained last night. Yes, he finished with a game-high 21; but when it really mattered, especially after UH had taken the lead with an 8-0 run early in the second half, Heidegger never got on track for one of those hot streaks of which he is very capable, and which can turn a game around very quickly.

“He shot a pretty good percentage, but we’ll live with that 1-for-5 from 3,” UH guard Drew Buggs said. “We want to make him earn it … if he’s hitting tough shots, we know at the end of the day that’s going to work in our favor, so we’ll make him take tough contested shots. You see it worked out for us.”

It was a similar situation for the Hawaii women, who had to deal with one of the top scorers in the country; Perez seems to get better with every game — and in the first half Saturday, every trip down the court.

The 5-foot-4 former pass-first guard used subtle and not-so-subtle changes of speed and direction to get open and hit a limitless number of improbable driving layups and long 2-pointers on the way to 23 first-half points. But she scored just 11 in the second half as Hawaii changed up its defense, preventing Perez from getting mismatches off of screens.

Meanwhile, the Wahine bombed away like never before, posting school records after coach Laura Beeman said she “took off the cuffs,” telling her players to run and gun to their hearts’ delight.

That they did, to the tune of 18-for-39 from 3-point range and new school records for makes and takes.

Five Wahine hit from beyond the arc, including Courtney Middap a school-record-tying six times on nine tries.

It will probably be a while before another team tries to beat the Wahine with a loose zone.

Still, as in the men’s game, the Titans hung around to keep the issue in doubt for most of the second half after Hawaii took the lead with an early post-intermission run. But every time they’d get close … boom, another trey to stop the bleeding.

“That kind of takes the air out of you when you’re trying to make a run and crawl back in and they hit a big 3,” said Jeff Harada, the Fullerton coach who starred at Hawaii Baptist and counts Hawaii Pacific as one of his coaching stops.

The UH men delivered from long distance, too. But it wasn’t the usual suspects, as marksmen Eddie Stansberry and the hobbled Samuta Avea were a combined 0-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Owen Hulland, a 7-footer playing in his first game of the season, hit two long bombs to keep the Warriors in the game in the first half. Zigmars Raimo — an inside player who once referred to himself as his smaller teammates’ “security guard” — hit from long range after the break, the second 3-ball of his career.

Both Hawaii squads displayed their depth. The Wahine subs outscored their Titans counterparts 25-6, and the Warriors reserves scored 41 percent of the team’s points.

The JustinsWebster and Hemsley — pitched in 11 and 10.

“We always try to play our bench,” UH men’s coach Eran Ganot said.

Often he has had no choice.

Many times this season, Hawaii’s starters or expected starters have been out or limited due to injuries. Last night starting forward Bernardo da Silva was forced to sit, due to a foot ailment. So Dawson Carper played nearly 24 minutes of inspired basketball in the post.


  1. H-Man January 20, 2020 4:19 am

    You gotta shoot to make points. All that dribbling and passing is only to set up the open shot. Just do it efficiently as the Wahine have done recently.

  2. Manao January 20, 2020 6:10 am

    Well done UH student/athletes, you make your parents and Hawaii proud unlike the rowdy bums renting next door who claim to also be students but rarely attend classes and instead party all night creating a noisy disturbance and disrespectful of their neighbors.

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