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Hawaii women’s basketball falls to LSU in the opening round of the NCAA tournament

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Rainbow Wāhine basketball team’s five-game winning streak was cut short today in the first round of the NCAA tournament as they fell to ninth place LSU 73-50 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center today.

“When big shots needed to be taken, they made big shots, and we missed shots when we had wide-open views,” Hawaii coach Laura Beeman said. “To beat a team of LSU quality you have to shoot wide open and we just didn’t do that.”

Hawaii allowed LSU forward Angel Reese to post a game-high 34 points. Reese became the first player in the SEC this century to record at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in a women’s NCAA tournament game.

LSU got off to an explosive start, beating the ‘Bows 18-7 in the first quarter, including a 12-0 run by the Tigers. Hawaii’s only points in the first quarter came from a 3-pointer and layup by Lily Wahinekapu and two free throws by Deajah Philips.

The ‘Bows’ had to slow down the Tigers’ explosive offensive and were able to play almost point for point in the second quarter. A 3-pointer from Meilani McBee would take the deficit below double digits, but Hawaii allowed LSU to end the quarter on a 6-0 run. The ‘Bows went into halftime 35-22.

“Our game plan was to get good shots and chase; they make that very difficult,” Beeman said.

“When we made great shots and didn’t turn the ball over, we were able to get back into the transition zone. If you can stop this team’s transition, you might have a chance.”

Hawaiʻi needed an offensive spark, which they lacked for most of the game before the third quarter, but couldn’t get anything going. Despite holding the Tigers to just 13 points, the ‘Bows put 11 points on the board.

In the fourth quarter, Hawaiʻi struggled to close the gap, allowing LSU to extend their lead to 23 three minutes into the final quarter. The ‘Bows fought to the end. Imani Perez and Kallin Spiller both hit 3-pointers, but Hawaii’s deficit proved too big to recover from.

“It’s really clear today that they have great guards, they have great posts,” Spiller said. “They really are a complete team that can do everything.”

Spiller and Phillips lead the ‘Bows with 13 points in their last game of the season. Wahinekapu has 11 points this season, averaging 12.5 points per game.

The ‘Bows fought, shooting 30 percent from the field and 22 percent from the 3-point line.

Despite an emotional injury-ridden season, the Rainbow Wāhine remains excited and motivated for what lies ahead for the program.

“This has been an emotional season of ups and downs, with the injuries we’ve had, losing games we didn’t think we should lose and then a run… I think everyone needs a little thought,” said beeman .

“We need to keep building our skills and our capabilities; that is a small motivation for the returnees.”

Hawaii is expected to land back in Honolulu at 4:00 p.m. HST Saturday and be back at the Mānoa campus around 5:00 p.m