LONG BEACH, Calif.—The Hawai’i women’s basketball team will play two critical Big West matchups against Long Beach State at 2 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday at Long Beach State Gymnasium.
The Wahine (5-6, 4-5) will face one of the elite Big West teams in the Sharks (11-3, 10-2).
Long Beach State is currently ranked second in the Big West Conference, behind UC Davis, who is currently undefeated in the conference but has played fewer conference games than the Sharks.
Taking a bite out of the Sharks
Justina King, Jasmine Hardy and Naomi Hunt are the three main offensive components the Wahine defense will have to shut down if they are to have a chance to win this week.
The trio is averaging nearly 35 points per contest, and they have outscored opponents for the season 905-811 throughout the 14 games they’ve played on their schedule.
Because of the Sharks’ consistent offensive output, the Wahine will have to eliminate their second-chance opportunities and win the rebounding battle if they are going to have a chance to keep up with Long Beach State’s offensive scoring barrages the Sharks have statistically demonstrated all season.
The three-headed monster
Hawai’i is getting the majority of their points production from three players: Jadynn Alexander, Daejah Phillips and Amy Atwell.
The three Wahine players combined average about 30 of the team’s 61.6 points per game average, which means they account for half of the team’s offensive production.
Running away with the conference race
Long Beach State has an opportunity to gain a significant Big West Conference lead if they can defeat the Wahine in back-to-back games this weekend.
The Sharks are the only team in the double-digit win category as the second half of February rapidly approaches.
Back-to-back victories against the Wahine could position themselves to secure the top spot headed into the Big West Conference Tournament held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on March 9-13.
Because of COVID-19, the standings are slightly complicated because some opponents have played fewer conference games than others, because of cancellations for safety reasons.
In the hypothetical scenario, if Hawai’i women’s basketball captures back-to-back victories, they could position themselves to be one of the top-5 seeds headed into the tournament, which would mean they would play a lower seed in the first round of the tournament.
There are currently ten teams in the conference, and Hawai’i is now ranked at seventh. There is a lot at stake for the Wahine in this game with only two weeks left until tournament time in March.
Hawai’i will host Big West Conference opponent UC Davis on March 6 for a doubleheader.