WNIT: Arizona State ends Wahine season

The Rainbow Wahine fall to Arizona State in the first round of the WNIT.

TEMPE, Ariz.--Hawaii's season came to a close with a 57-44 loss to Arizona State in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Arena. The Rainbow Wahine, who were playing on the road for the eighth time in the last 10 games, battled throughout but ran out of gas in a low-scoring defensive battle.

UH, making its fourth consecutive appearance in the Women's National Invitation Tournament, ended its season at 16-14. It is the eighth season in a row the program has finished with a winning record. ASU (16-3), meanwhile, advanced to the second round where they will next travel to Baylor.

Three Rainbow Wahine finished in double figures led by Jade Abele and Kim Willoughby with 11 points each. Senior Christen Roper, playing the final game of her career finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks.

Ultimately it was ASU's youth over UH's experience. The squad's top three scorers are freshman and top gun Jill Noe scored 13 of her game-high 18 points in the second half to put the Rainbow Wahine away. Noe drained four 3-pointers and added eight rebounds and four assists.

Both teams played with post-season intensity and it was reflected with a defense-oriented game. ASU jumped out to a seven point lead just minutes into the game, but UH reeled off eight straight points and it was a back-forth battle from then on. Points were hard to come by in the first half as ASU held a slim 22-18 lead at the break. UH harassed the Sun Devils to just 25 percent shooting in the first half, but ASU grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and forced 10 UH turnovers.

ASU took its biggest lead of the game 40-30 lead with nine minutes on Kristen Kovesdy's layup. UH tried to chip away but could get no closer than six points in the final stanza. Abele's bucket with 3:28 cut the lead to 51-44, but that would be the final points for UH on the evening. The Rainbow Wahine shot just 31 percent for the game and were out-rebounded 45-29.

Along with Roper, the game was the final one for seniors Natasja Allen and Michelle Gabriel. Allen finished with two assists in 25 minutes, while Gabriel had two points, two rebounds and two steals.


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