Wahine Basketball: Opens WAC play with a win

Hawaii upends Tulsa in first round action of the WAC Tournament and faces La. Tech next.

TULSA, Okla.--Hawaii gave a signature performance on defense to defeat Tulsa, 62-48, in the quarterfinals of the Williams WAC Tournament Wednesday at the Reynolds Center. The Rainbow Wahine advance to the semifinals where they will meet up with top-seeded Louisiana Tech on Friday at 10:30 a.m. Hawaii time.

Fourth-seeded Tulsa held the home court advantage as a crowd 2,719 came out to see the second meeting between the teams in the WAC Tournament in the last three years. Still, Hawaii managed to grab its third straight road win in improving to 16-12 on the year. Tulsa, meanwhile ended its season at 14-16.

UH controlled the tempo throughout as Tulsa's offense became rattled by UH's swarming defense. The Rainbow Wahine took an eight-point lead into the locker room by forcing 10 Tulsa turnovers, while Christen Roper was a menace inside, swatting four shots. The senior center finished with seven blocks on the evening and added a game-high 12 rebounds.

Hawaii broke open the game in the second half by holding the Golden Hurricane to just 24 percent shooting. Tulsa shot just 31 percent for the game, including 26 percent (6-of-23) from 3-point range.

Offensively, Hawaii pounded the ball inside as four different Rainbow Wahine finished in double figures led by Natasja Allen's 16 points. Kim Willoughby recorded her third double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Jade Abele added 12 points and April Atuaia 10 points.

Allison Curtain, the WAC's leading scorer, was held in check for most of the game and finished with a team-high 19 points. Megan Moody, who scored Tulsa's first 13 points, finished with 15 on the evening.

The only bad news on the evening came when Michelle Gabriel sprained her right ankle three minutes into the second half. The senior point guard is questionable for Friday's semifinal against the sixth-ranked Lady Techsters (27-2).

The Rainbow Wahine will face Louisiana Tech for the second straight year in the conference tournament. The two teams met in last year's final with the Lady Techsters pulling off a 53-50 win. Louisiana Tech won both meetings this year.


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