Big West tournament seed at stake for Rainbow Wahine

Mar. 4—Three will indeed be the magic number for Hawaii and UC Santa Barbara in the final game of the Big West women's basketball regular-season schedule.

Three will indeed be the magic number for Hawaii and UC Santa Barbara in the final game of the Big West women's basketball regular-season schedule.

The Rainbow Wahine (14-14, 12-7 Big West ) and Gauchos (19-10, 12-7 ) close the conference's regular season tonight at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, with the winner claiming the third seed in next week's Big West tournament in Henderson, Nev.

Coming off Thursday's win over Cal State Northridge, UH will also seek to sweep a conference weekend for the third time in a roller-coaster Big West campaign and climb above.500 for the first time this season.

After the final buzzer, the spotlight will fall on UH's two senior-night honorees, guard McKenna Haire and forward Kallin Spiller, who will receive the traditional postgame sendoff after the home finale.

"I never thought I was going to get emotional on my senior night, but every time I've started talking about it the tears start spilling, " Haire told media members earlier this week. "It's just a really special moment to be able to celebrate with Kallin."

Haire and Spiller were given virtual sendoffs on Zoom meetings when they left Princeton and Columbia, respectively, before joining the Rainbow Wahine as graduate transfers. They witnessed their first UH senior night last year when Amy Atwell was honored after the Wahine clinched the Big West regular-season championship with a win over UCSB.

UH went on to claim the conference tournament crown and the Wahine will enter next week's title defense as the third, fourth or fifth seed.

The Wahine will attempt to earn a split of the season series with the Gauchos, who rallied from a 20-point deficit in the third quarter to pull out a 72-69 win at the Thunderdome on Jan. 26. UCSB's home loss to UC Davis on Thursday, coupled with UH's 66-58 win over CSUN, created the tie for third entering tonight's game.

Tonight's winner will face sixth-seeded Cal State Fullerton (13-15, 8-11 entering today's play ) in a quarterfinal game on Wednesday at the Dollar Loan Center. The loser will likely face UC Davis (15-13, 11-7 ) as the fourth or fifth seed, depending on the Aggies' result today at conference leader Long Beach State.

UH swept the season series with Cal State Fullerton and split with UC Davis, with the Wahine and Aggies trading road wins. UC Davis is 6-2 over the past month, starting with its 57-47 win in Manoa on Feb. 2.

While UH coach Laura Beeman acknowledged the varying paths that hinge on today's results, "Bottom line, when we're playing great basketball you can put us up with the No. 1 seed first game, don't care, " she said. "If we show up and do what we're supposed to do, nobody in that tournament wants to see the University of Hawaii, I promise you that."

At the top of the standings, Long Beach State (22-7, 17-2 ) enters the day with a 15-game winning streak and percentage points ahead of UC Irvine (23-5, 15-2 ). The Anteaters can jump into the top seed with a win at CSU Bakersfield and an LBSU loss to UC Davis at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach.

UC San Diego is sixth in the standings, but the Tritons are still ineligible for the conference title as the school remains in the reclassification period to Division I.

Big West women's basketball