An unlikely source helped brighten a dampened road trip for the Hawaii women’s basketball team.
UH got its two-game Southern California swing off to an inauspicious start in Saturday’s 14-point loss at Long Beach State, a game that was relocated to an auxiliary gymnasium because of rain leakage at the Walter Pyramid.
Reserve guard McKenna Haire, a graduate student in her second year with the program, was the bright spot in that 62-48 defeat as she registered 15 points, her best in a Rainbow Wahine uniform.
Haire then replicated the feat in Monday’s matchup at Cal State Northridge, scoring a career-best 18 points, all on 6-for-8 3-point shooting, in a 76-60 victory.
UH (6-9, 4-2 Big West) put up its finest offensive numbers of the season – a scoring high and 57.1% shooting – thanks to 44 points from its bench, and specifically from Haire’s outburst.
Prior to the trip, Haire, who played at Princeton as an undergraduate, had totaled six points on the season, all at San Jose State in the team’s pre-conference finale.
“McKenna has put in the work,” UH coach Laura Beeman messaged Spectrum News after the game. “She is an amazing teammate above and beyond her shooting.”
UH shot 12-for-21 from beyond the arc, including 4-for-6 in the first quarter to build a lead it would not relinquish. Seven different Wahine players made a field goal in the first quarter.
The Wahine assisted on 16 of their 28 made field goals.
“When we share the ball and move to open spots good things happen. Also, attitude, energy and effort (were) much better tonight,” Beeman said.
Daejah Phillips added 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals off the bench and point guard Lily Wahinekapu had 16 points and six assists.
Tess Amundsen lead the Matadors (4-13, 3-4) with 17 points.
UH is in a four-way tie for second place. It returns home to play conference leader UC Irvine (14-3, 6-0) and last-place UC Riverside (4-13, 2-5) on Thursday and Saturday at SimpliFi Arena.
Brian McInnis covers the state’s sports scene for Spectrum News Hawaii. He can be reached at email@example.com.