By WES NAKAMA
Stephens Media Hawaii
HONOLULU — The University of Hawaii men’s and women’s basketball teams open their respective seasons this weekend.
The Rainbow Warriors will face Tennessee State at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the opener of the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Rainbow Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center. They will then play Western Michigan at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and wrap up the tournament with a midnight game Monday vs. New Mexico State — part of ESPN’s nationally televised College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.
UH defeated Brigham Young-Hawaii 101-85 in an exhibition game at the SSC on Oct. 31. Senior forward Christian Standhardinger, an All-Big West first team selection last season, led the Rainbow Warriors with 27 points and junior college transfer Garrett Nevels made an impressive debut with 24 points.
Meanwhile, the UH women’s basketball team opens its season with road games at Arizona State on Saturday and Northern Arizona on Sunday.
The Rainbow Wahine return nine players from a squad that went 17-14 last season, including All-Big West Conference first-team forward Kamilah Jackson, Big West Defensive Player of the Year Sydney Haydel, Big West Sixth Player of the Year Shawna-Lei Kuehu and Ashleigh Karaitiana, who was named to the Big West All-Freshman team.
Last year’s squad tied for second in the Big West regular season with a 13-5 record, including an 8-1 mark at home. It was UH’s best conference record in 12 years.
The Rainbow Wahine defeated UHH 70-35 in an exhibition game at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Junior guard Morgan Mason, a 5-foot-9 transfer from Mount San Antonio (Calif.) College, finished with a team-high six steals.
UH will open its home season at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 against Washington State in the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic. The Cougars feature former Konawaena standouts Lia Galdeira and Dawnyelle Awa.
VOLLEYBALL TEAM BACK ON ROAD: The UH women’s volleyball team also hits the road this week, traveling to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Friday and then Cal Santa Barbara on Saturday.
Cal Santa Barbara stunned the Rainbow Wahine with a five-set upset at the SSC on Oct. 11, beginning a rare midseason stumble in which Hawaii lost three out of five conference matches — something that had not happened since 1993.
The Rainbow Wahine (18-4 overall, 7-3 Big West) have no margin for error if they hope to host an NCAA Tournament first-round match, as their Ratings Percentage Index ranking fell one spot to No. 16 despite home victories over Cal Irvine and Long Beach State last weekend.
Host bids are supposed to be offered to the tournament’s Top 16 seeds, which will be determined in part by RPI.
UH also needs two wins this weekend to stay in contention for the Big West championship, as Cal State Northridge is 9-1 in conference play and Cal Santa Barbara is 8-1. Both teams currently hold tiebreaker advantages over the Rainbow Wahine.
SOCCER SEASON PAU: The UH women’s soccer team ended its season with a 2-0 victory over Cal State Northridge at Waipio Peninsula Stadium.
The Rainbow Wahine finished 8-8-1 overall and 3-4-1 (10 points) in the Big West, tied for fifth place. Only the top four teams advanced to this week’s conference tournament.
Junior forward Tiana Fujimoto was named to the All-Big West first team, while junior forward Krystal Pascua and defenders Chelsea Miyake (senior) and Lidia Battaglia (sophomore) received honorable mention.
Goal keeper Mikaela “Bonk” Berger and forward Kama Pascua were named to the All-Freshman Team.
WAHINE GOLFERS FINISH FALL SEASON: The UH women’s golf team wrapped up its fall season with a 12th-place finish at the Pac-12 Preview at Kailua-Kona’s Nanea Golf Club.
Freshman Izzy Leung led the Rainbow Wahine with a three-day total of 11-over 230.
The tournament featured 11 teams from the Pac-12, nine of which are nationally ranked, and 28 ranked individuals.
Hawaii will begin the spring season Feb. 10-11 at the Matador Invitational in Simi Valley, Calif.