SAN RAFAEL, Calif. – Safia Sheikh notched a career-high 32 points and her third straight 20-point game to lead BYU-Hawaii women's basketball to an 85-75 victory Saturday against Dominican at the Conlan Center.
"We are learning each game how to play better together and to play to each other's strengths," BYU-Hawaii head coach Craig Stanger said. "This was an important game against a very tough opponent, and the ladies responded well and stuck with the game plan. We feel if we continue to gel as a team and work to play together, we can become competitive in the league."
S. Sheikh added three assists, three rebounds and a block on the night, while Marian Sheikh finished with 17 points and two steals. Tyvette White added a career-high 13 points and Kristin Baldwin played well defensively for the Seasiders (4-4, 2-2 PacWest) collecting 10 rebounds and finishing with two blocks before fouling out.
Sandra Ikeora led the Penguins (5-4, 1-1 PacWest) with a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds, while Taylor Donnot contributed 13 points, five rebounds and three assists.
BYU-Hawaii shot 43.5 percent from the field to set a new season high in points, holding Dominican to 35.1 percent on the night. The Seasiders also won the rebounding battle 49-43 over a strong interior for the Penguins.
After three close quarters, S. Sheikh opened the fourth with a 3-point play to extend the lead to five, but Baldwin fouled out on the next possession and Ikeora answered with a 3-point play of her own to make it 62-60. After Ikeora tied the game at 62, S. Sheikh hit an acrobatic layup and Maia Jean Watene added a jumper to push the BYU-Hawaii lead to four. Tonga then connected on a layup off the assist from S. Sheikh and White powered through a foul for a 3-point play to make it 71-64 with five minutes remaining. The Seasiders held off any Penguin comeback attempt with solid defense down the stretch.
BYU-Hawaii attacked the basket early to open with a 9-2 run, getting to the charity stripe four times. Dominican found its stroke from behind the 3-point line as Donnot and Vanessa Cruz bookended an 8-2 run to close the gap to 11-10.
Taryn Skahill connected on a jumper and added a layup for the Seasiders during a 6-point streak to regain a seven-point advantage and force a Penguin timeout with 1:34 left in the first quarter. Watene then got her second steal and Skahill found S. Sheikh behind the arc for the first of back-to-back 3-pointers to take the first double-digit lead of the game at 23-12. Alanna Scott answered with a 3-pointer for Dominican to trim the BYU-Hawaii lead to eight heading to the second quarter.
The Penguins got inside for back-to-back layups to cut the Seasiders lead to 27-21 three minutes into the second, but M. Sheikh answered quickly with a 3-pointer on the other end to push the lead back to nine. Skahill connected on another jumper and S. Sheikh added two free-throws to push the lead to double-digits at the halfway mark of the quarter.
Carly Holboke sparked Dominican attacking the basket for a 3-point play and followed up with a pair of free throws during a 9-2 run that cut the lead to 37-33 with two minutes left in the half. The teams traded points over the final minutes and Ikeora laid the ball in seconds before the buzzer to make it 41-37 in BYU-Hawaii's favor at the break.
After the Penguins tied the game in the opening minutes of the second half, Mata Tonga hit two jumpers during a 6-0 run to reclaim the lead for the Seasiders. Ikeora answered down low for Dominican scoring three points to close the gap to 48-46 with five minutes left in the quarter. Cruz tied it with a pair of free throws one minute later, but S. Sheikh connected on a floater in the middle of the lane to make it 50-48 with 3:32 on the clock.
The teams continued to trade buckets and the Penguins retook the lead for the first time since the opening basket on a layup from Alexis Price, but White answered on the other end for the Seasiders with a 3-point play to give BYU-Hawaii the 59-57 lead heading to the final quarter.
BYU-Hawaii continued to add to its lead in the final quarter after its early run when S. Sheikh made it 74-64 from the free-throw line to put her scoring total above 30. Dominican cut the lead to six and forced a turnover in an comeback attempt, but Watene quickly swiped the ball back for her fourth steal and hit a jumper in the middle of the lane to retake the momentum.
Another turnover and foul sent White to the line for two and after she hit both, M. Sheikh added a layup to push the lead to 81-69. The Seasiders hit their free throws in the final minute to hold off any Penguin attempt at a comeback to seal the victory.
BYU-Hawaii returns home to take on No. 7/8 Alaska Anchorage at 7 p.m. HST Tuesday at the Cannon Activities Center. Live stats and video will be available online.