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BONUS COVERAGE: Rainbow Wahine fall in Big West title game, but will accept WNIT invitation

Three weeks of late-season magic by the University of Hawai’i women’s basketball team came up 10 minutes short. UC Davis out-scored the Rainbow Wahine 22-8 in the fourth quarter, and it led to a 58-50 win by the Aggies in the championship game of the Big West Conference Tournament on Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The loss ended a four-game winning streak by the Rainbow Wahine, but it did not end their season. Hawai’i will participate in the WNIT, the school announced after Saturday’s loss.

Although the Rainbows have a 15-16 overall record, they finished in second place in the Big West during  both the regular season and the conference tournament. At the end of February, they were in fifth place.

“I thought we represented the state of Hawai’i really well this entire tournament,” head coach Laura Beeman said. “Definitely not the outcome that we wanted, particularly after playing an amazing first half. But a team like Davis doesn’t quit and they have a tremendous record and tremendously coached.”

The Aggies improved to 25-6 and will represent the Big West at the NCAA Tournament.

It was a tale of two halves, as the Rainbows appeared to be in control for the entire first half, but faded at the end.

Hawai’i had a 22-10 lead after the first quarter, thanks to 4-for-6 shooting from 3-point range in the opening 10 minutes. By halftime, the Rainbows had a 32-18 lead, and increased the margin to as many as 17 points early in the third quarter.

Leah Salanoa drained a 3-pointer on Hawai’i’s first possession of the fourth quarter to give the Rainbows a 45-36 lead. It would be the last field goal of the game for Hawai’i.

The Rainbows went 0 for 12 from the field in the game’s final nine minutes.

Tia Kanoa led Hawai’i with 15 points, and Leah Salanoa added 14. They were both selected to the all-tournament team.

Morgan Bertsch scored a game-high 24 points and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Hawai’i is expected to find out its WNIT opponent and playing site on Monday afternoon.

(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

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Season over for Rainbow Warriors

While the Rainbow Wahine season will continue, the Hawai’i men’s basketball team’s will not. UH officials announced on Friday that the Rainbow Warriors will decline any invitations to the “pay to play” postseason tournaments such as the CBI or CIT.

Hawai’i finished with an 18-13 record following a heartbreaking 68-66 loss to Long Beach State in the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament.

UC Irvine won the Big West tournament championship game in a 92-64 rout of Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. The Anteaters (30-5) are projected to be a 13 seed by ESPN for the NCAA Tournament. The official field will be announced on Sunday.

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