LAIE, Hawaii – BYU-Hawaii women's basketball hung tough for 40 minutes, but lost 74-68 to PacWest leader Hawaii Pacific on Friday in the Cannon Activities Center.
"Hawaii Pacific is number one in the conference for a reason," BYU-Hawaii head coach Craig Stanger said. "Our energy was good and we showed good resilience coming back from a double digit deficit. I'm pleased with the effort, but we're not satisfied. Even though they are a really good team I feel like we could have taken them."
Brydgette Tatupu-Leopoldo led the Seasiders (5-5, 2-2 PacWest) with 21 points on the night, while Whitney Fieldsted added her fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Marquessa Gilson had her best night of the season finishing with 18 points.
As a team BYU-Hawaii was able to dominate the paint defensively grabbing more rebounds than Hawaii Pacific and more than doubling the amount of second chance points the Sharks got.
The Sharks (10-2, 5-0 PacWest) opened a 16-point lead with 13 minutes remaining in the in the second half and looked like they were on their way to a repeat performance of their blowout win in Honolulu in early December. BYU-Hawaii refused to go away battling back within two possessions with 47 seconds left to play and possession of the ball. Tatupu-Leopoldo's 3-point attempt to bring it cut the lead to three was blocked by Morganne Comstock and Hawaii Pacific hit its free throws to ice the game.
The game began with the Seasiders jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead with shots from Fieldsted and Tatupu-Leopoldo. The Sharks were able to tie the game twice, but BYU-Hawaii continued to pull ahead leading 13-12 with the clock showing 13:07 left in the first half.
At 12:33, the Sharks took the lead for the first time, but it was short lived as a layup from Tatupu-Leopoldo gave BYU-Hawaii the lead back. Megan Goodman stole the ball and fed Fieldsted for a layup to increase the Seasiders' advantage to 17-14. A 10-point run by the Sharks put them firmly in control at 24-17 with nine minutes remaining in the game.
From then on BYU-Hawaii trailed Hawaii Pacific, but the Seasiders were able to stay in the game. With 24 seconds left in the first half, Emily Nelson was able to sink a fade away and cut the Hawaii Pacific lead back to two at 35-33 to send the teams into the locker room.
Hawaii Pacific came out firing in the second half, going on a 12-3 run over the first four minutes. A layup by Tatupu-Leopoldo with 10 minutes left to play paved the way for Seasiders to control the next three minutes on both sides of the court and ignited a seven-point run that included shots from Devyn Kauhi and Celeste Claw to decrease the double digit lead to just five at 60-55.
The teams continued to trade baskets, but Hawaii Pacific used small runs to maintain their lead. By the end of the game the score showed 74-68 in favor of Hawaii Pacific despite tremendous defensive effort from BYU-Hawaii.
The Seasiders return to action on Tuesday against Fresno Pacific at 5:00 pm HST in the CAC. Live stats will be available online.