Hawai’i keeps cool, downs Cal Poly late to keep atop Big West standings

Hawai’i keeps cool, downs Cal Poly late to keep atop Big West standings

UH forward Imani Perez drives to the hoop in a home contest for the Rainbow Wahine. Hawai’i beat Cal Poly on February 15, 59-47.

Hawai’i keeps cool, downs Cal Poly late to keep atop Big West standings

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 15, 2024

HONOLULU — Poise pays off. 

The Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine returned home Thursday night after a rough road loss to UC Davis last weekend and came together late to drop the Cal Poly Mustangs, 59-47. UH guard MeiLani McBee led all scorers with 21 points on the night, 12 coming in the fourth quarter to put the game away for the Rainbow Wahine. 

“I thought it was a great, gritty game by the girls particularly in [the fourth quarter]. Cal Poly plays incredibly hard, they’re very, very physical,” Hawai’i head coach Laura Beeman shared postgame. “I thought we played a little frustrated for the first three-and-a-half quarters and I don’t know why other than we wanted it to come easy and [Cal Poly] wasn’t going to let that happen.” 

Cal Poly jumped things off with a bucket on the Mustangs’ first possession, but Hawai’i quickly and calmly responded with seven of the next nine points to take a three-point advantage into the game’s first media timeout. The Rainbow Wahine continued chugging along offensively as they doubled the Cal Poly output by the quarter’s three-minute mark, 12-6, but the Mustangs would keep the game within a possession going into the second quarter after guard Annika Shah drained a three with just under 30 seconds to play in the first period. 

Visiting Cal Poly continued the momentum with five of the second quarter’s first seven points to knot things at 19, holding the Rainbow Wahine without a point for over four minutes after Lily Wahinekapu’s short jumper to open the frame. UH guard Daejah Phillips got herself going shortly after the second-quarter media timeout by scoring the next five Rainbow Wahine points to push Hawai’i back out in front before connecting with Jacque David on a post-seal feed for a layup to give UH a seven-point lead with just over two minutes remaining the opening half. Once again, Cal Poly’s Shah showed out with late-clock heroics to drill a step back triple to bring the Mustangs within two scores before Wahinekapu got a turnaround jumper to drop at the buzzer to head into the locker room up six, 28-22.  

Hawai’i maintained that six-point halftime lead through the first four minutes out of halftime, trading basket for basket and point for point with Cal Poly before Amanda Olinger’s three from the top of the key made it a three-point game with 5:41 left in the third quarter. The Rainbow Wahine responded after the period’s media timeout with four straight points to push their lead out to seven, but a Sidney Richards’ layup and Sierra Lichtie’s two makes from the charity stripe to close the quarter brought the Mustangs within three entering the fourth, 38-35. 

The visitors continued rolling through the quarter break, taking Cal Poly’s first lead since the opening moments of the contest as Richards drained a pair of free throws to make it 39-38 in favor of the Mustangs. Hawai’i snatched the lead right back as Wahinekapu got the hoop-and-harm to regain a two-point advantage on the next possession. Cal Poly’s Olinger put back her own miss with 5:42 left to play to knot things at 41 momentarily before Hawai’i’s McBee drained her second triple of the night to give a 44-41 lead to the Rainbow Wahine going into the night’s final media timeout.  

Ashley Thoms, who had been battered and bruised all night, hustled around a Mustangs’ screen to force an offensive foul before Kelsie Imai found a cutting McBee backdoor for an and-one to extend the Rainbow Wahine lead back out to six. Cal Poly’s Shah knocked down a three on the following possession to bring the Mustangs within a possession with 4:01 left to play, but that was the closest the visitors would get for the remainder of the night as Sydney Bourland was assessed a technical foul and McBee scored six points in 15 seconds of game action to suddenly give the Rainbow Wahine breathing room. 

“Losing your poise costs you seven points,” Hawai’i’s Beeman said postgame in reference to the Rainbow Wahine’s ability to stay calm down the stretch in a physical game. “You know, we sunk the free throws. We’ve been in a position in the past where we maybe would’ve lost our poise and putting them to the free throw line… [There is] a difference between playing with emotions and playing emotional and I think we played with great emotion tonight, but we did not get emotional.” 

With newfound comfort in the lead, Hawai’i closed out the final minute and a half with six more points while knocking down all four foul shots attempts for the Rainbow Wahine’s sixth Big West win holding an opponent below the half-century mark, 59-47. 

Cal Poly was led by guard Annika Shah’s 14 points on three 3-point makes and 5-of-13 shooting overall in the loss. The Mustangs were held to a rocky 33% shooting from the floor across 51 shots, going 6-of-19 from distance as Cal Poly fell for just the fourth time in Big West play. 

UH McBee’s 21 points led all scorers as the junior guard poured in 12 points in the final quarter to help push the Rainbow Wahine over the top. Sophomore forward Imani Perez added 10 rebounds and four blocks to go along with her five points across just three shots in the win. 

Hawai’i returns to the hardwood Saturday night for “Beeman’s Big Bash” and a rematch of last year’s Big West Tournament championship game when UC Santa Barbara comes to town. General admission tickets for the game are $7, while seniors can save a couple bucks on the price of a ticket at just $5. Keiki are FREE as the Rainbow Wahine attempt to set the attendance record inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center for a Laura Beeman-coached game for Hawai’i. 

Hawai’i remains hot, grabs season sweep of UC Irvine behind McBee’s strong 2nd half

Hawai’i remains hot, grabs season sweep of UC Irvine behind McBee’s strong 2nd half

UH guard MeiLani McBee handles the ball in a Feb. 1 game against Cal State Fullerton. McBee had a team-high 14 points two days later in a win against UC Irvine. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Hawai’i remains hot, grabs season sweep of UC Irvine behind McBee’s strong 2nd half

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 3, 2024

HONOLULU — Not bad practice before “Beeman’s Big Bash” for UH. 

In a fight for first place in the Big West, the Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine (12-8, 9-2 Big West) muscled past the UC Irvine Anteaters, 55-43, Saturday night inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center to take sole possession of first place in the conference. 

UH entered the night tied atop the league with UCI (14-7, 8-3 Big West), excited for another chance to defend home court in front of over 1,500 fans and avenge last season’s overtime loss inside the Stan to the Anteaters. The young women responded with an inspired defensive effort against a physical UC Irvine squad, tying the second lowest point total against the Rainbow Wahine since BWC play started. 

“We love Hawai’i, we love playing for our fans and when we can do what we’re supposed to do on our home court, that means a lot to our kids,” Hawai’i head coach Laura Beeman said of her squad after moving to 6-0 inside the friendly confines of Mānoa since Big West play began and 8-3 overall at SimpliFi Arena this season. 

Hawai’i guard Olivia Davies opened the scoring with a left-wing triple, banking in the try to give the lead to the hometown Rainbow Wahine just a minute into action. UCI responded in turn, rattling off the next six points to take a 6-3 lead with 4:59 remaining in the opening quarter. Freshman guard Jade Peacock would end a near-six-minute scoring drought for UH with a pair of free throws before the Rainbow Wahine jumped back ahead 25 seconds later as Daejah Phillips went coast-to-coast and dropped in a layup over the front of the iron to make it 7-6.  

In all, the Rainbow Wahine closed the opening frame on a 10-3 run behind their defense and quality foul shooting to take a 13-9 lead into the second. 

UH’s dynamic backcourt of Phillips and Lily Wahinekapu continued to produce on the offensive end, trading turns creating points for the Rainbow Wahine as the advantage grew as large as 10 not even midway through the second quarter. Hawai’i would maintain around the double-digit lead up until right before halftime when UCI’s Nikki Tom stole away a Davies pass and quickly pushed it ahead to Deja Lee for a layup to beat the clock and bring the Anteaters within nine at the break, 27-18.  

Star sophomore forward Imani Perez, back from a one-game absence due to personal reasons, got the Hawai’i scoring going once again to open the third quarter by draining a mid-range jumper from the top of the key to make it an 11-point lead before back-to-back buckets from Lee brought the visitors back within seven.

After seeing the Hawai’i lead go back up to 11, UC Irvine head coach Tamara Inoue and staff decided to employ a 2-2-1 zone press, slowing down the Rainbow Wahine offense enough to cut the margin down to six with two and a half minutes left in the period — enough to make for an awkwardly-anxious crowd inside the Stan Sheriff Center. 

Laura Beeman’s battle-tested squad did not flinch despite the ever-shrinking lead, responding calmly with a Davies drive-and-kick to a wide open Wahinekapu for a much-needed three-pointer to give UH a nine-point lead heading into the final 10 minutes. 

The Rainbow Wahine opened the final frame with a continued hot hand from long range as MeiLani McBee showed off the quick trigger on a pair of threes and Perez got the hoop-and-harm to extend to a 14-point lead for UH.

“Great to have Imani back,” Beeman smiled admitting postgame. “We needed her as much as she needed us.” 

Despite the Anteaters’ best efforts, UCI’s 0-of-15 night from long distance and the Rainbow Wahine’s defensive grit saw Hawai’i close out the victory, 55-43. 

“We knew it was going to be physical, it was physical the first time [against UC Irvine],” Perez said postgame. “[Coach Beeman] says that we need to be the aggressor and I feel like our team was really ready to take hits today and we knew what they were coming out with.” 

The hard-fought battle resulted in 37 free throws being taken between the two squads and likely just as many bruises from block-outs underneath the basket as the Rainbow Wahine dominated the glass, 44-32.  

“Like I said on Thursday, they are an aggressive team, and we knew we needed to be aggressive, and I think we capitalized on it today,” McBee added. 

McBee led the way in scoring for Hawai’i, dropping all 14 of her points in the second half while collecting seven rebounds along the way. UH’s Wahinekapu added 11 points while Perez piled up 10 points to go along with six boards in her return. 

UCI’s Deja Lee led all scorers with 21 points on 9-of-19 shooting, racking up four steals on the night. No other UC Irvine player broke the double-digit threshold for points as Hawai’i held the Anteaters to just 25% (16-of-64 FG) shooting from the floor overall. 

UH hits the road once again next week for a two-game trip, facing off with UC San Diego for the second time this season before stopping by UC Davis. Hawai’i was a 64-52 winner over UCSD back on January 20 at home and enters the game as the lone team atop the Big West totem pole.  

Short-handed Hawai’i fights by CSU Fullerton despite Lewis’ season-high

Short-handed Hawai’i fights by CSU Fullerton despite Lewis’ season-high

Hawai’i guard Daejah Phillips pulls up for a jumper during the second half of the Rainbow Wahine’s 66-61 win over CSU Fullerton. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Short-handed Hawai’i fights by CSU Fullerton despite Lewis’ season-high

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 1, 2024

HONOLULU — Just another night in the Stan. 

Down two starters that stand over 6-foot-4, it took some time for UH to figure out the size and strength of Ashlee Lewis and Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night.  

For Hawai’i, figuring out challenges of changing personnel within the ebbs and flows of the season is nothing new, so they just turned to the backcourt for help. 

The Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine (11-8, 8-2 Big West) used the hot-handed backcourt of Lily Wahinekapu and Daejah Phillips to eek out a home victory over the CSU Fullerton Titans (7-13, 3-7 Big West), 66-61. The backcourt duo combined for 36 of the Rainbow Wahine’s 66 total points, 30 of which came after the halftime break, as Laura Beeman’s squad remained tied atop the Big West with UC Irvine, posting their eighth win in ten conference games. 

Forward Jacque David, starting in place for usual standout Imani Perez for the first time this season and first time since suffering a season-ending injury during the 2022-23 season, got the scoring started for both sides with a left-wing three-pointer for her first long-range make in just five games of action this season. 

CSU Fullerton responded with an 11 straight points as the home squad struggled to find the touch on the jump shot, going up by eight just over halfway through the opening quarter. Following the first media break of the night, the Rainbow Wahine ripped off an 8-2 run of their own to cut the Titans’ lead to two before CSUF’s Hope Hassmann beat the first quarter buzzer with a left-wing three to go into the second up, 16-11.

Hawai’i tied the game with just under six minutes left in the first half as Meilani McBee drained her first three of the night, making it 18-all before Fujika Nimmo answered on the following possession to put the visitors back in front by a trifecta. After a couple of traded baskets, UH’s Jade Peacock got a decent look just before the halftime horn that went off the mark as the ‘Bows entered halftime trailing, 25-22. 

The Rainbow Wahine started the second half the same as the first as David knocked home her second three-pointer of the night to knot things momentarily at 25, stacking that on top of a forced shot-clock violation on the other end before CSUF rattled off six points in a row to reclaim the lead. Behind former Titan and newly-minted 1,000-point collegiate scorer Lily Wahinekapu, UH tied the game once again at 33 about midway through the quarter. 

Hawai’i finally re-took the lead with just over a minute left in the third as Daejah Phillips took over, driving by Ashlee Lewis for a right-handed layup before drilling a right-corner three to push the Rainbow Wahine ahead, 43-42. CSUF’s Eva Levingston knocked down a pair of free throws on the other end to push the away squad ahead but again, Phillips would answer with two points of her own – giving Hawai’i a one-point lead heading into the final quarter of play. 

Wahinekapu began the final 10 minutes with another bucket, extending the UH advantage to three before Levingston knotted it back up at 47. The forward for the Titans fouled out just a few possessions later as the “Daejah Show” continued with a foray to the cup, plus the foul, to make it 51-51 with just under six minutes remaining. Kelsie Imai pushed Hawai’i back out in front with a pair of makes from the charity stripe and Phillips rattled off back-to-back buckets to make it a six-point lead for the Rainbow Wahine with 3:18 left to play.  

The Titans wouldn’t concede the contest to Hawai’i quite yet, playing the foul game to extend the clock as Lewis put up a pair of baskets while UH missed four consecutive free throws to make the Stan Sheriff Center crowd on hand sweat a bit before Phillips, Imai and Wahinekapu closed things out from the line to keep the Rainbow Wahine perfect at home since conference play began, taking down CSU Fullerton, 66-61. 

CSU Fullerton’s Ashlee Lewis posted a season-best 25 points to go along with 13 rebounds, leading both teams in those categories. Hope Hassman chipped in 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting in the loss for the Titans. 

Hawai’i’s Phillips also posted a season-high in points with 22 in just 26 minutes, showing potential as a small-ball forward after Beeman experimented with Phillips and McBee staffing the four and five positions down Brooklyn Rewers and Imani Perez. MeiLani McBee closed the night with 11 points, going just 1-of-7 from distance but providing excellent post defense without fouling late to help lead the Rainbow Wahine to the win. 

The victory sets up an exciting Saturday night clash of the Big West’s best as Hawai’i welcomes UC Irvine into Mānoa for a first-place bout. Both teams are currently tied atop the conference standings with identical 8-2 records in Big West play, though the Anteaters did not play Thursday night after Cal Poly was forced to forfeit the contest and enter Saturday in the islands with just one game that needed to prep for this week. 

“I think knowing that we missed an opportunity to defend home court last year [versus UC Irvine] … knowing what they had to prepare for this week? It’s going to be personal,” McBee said ahead of Saturday’s matchup. 

Hawai’i picks up first home victory against UC San Diego, continue sizzling conference start

Hawai’i picks up first home victory against UC San Diego, continue sizzling conference start

Hawai’i picks up first home victory against UC San Diego, continue sizzling conference start

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JAN 20, 2024

HONOLULU — Another night, another dominant defensive showing. 

The Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine (9-7, 6-1 Big West) continued to tear through the Big West schedule Saturday night, defeating UC San Diego (7-11, 3-4 Big West) inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, 64-52, behind a strong beginning and end to the contest. 

UH guard Lily Wahinekapu got the action going with a running layup in the lane for the game’s first points as Hawai’i took the lead from the jump and never relinquished it. The Rainbow Wahine would sprint out to a 14-5 lead through the opening 10 minutes behind stellar defense, holding UCSD to 2-of-10 shooting from the floor and forcing seven turnovers to grab the nine-point advantage. 

The good vibes and play continued into the start of the second frame for the Rainbow Wahine with a quick 5-0 run to force a Tritons’ timeout with 7:12 left in the first half with UH leading, 19-5. Following the stoppage, the visitors began to see better success on the offensive end by cutting down on the turnovers — committing just two giveaways in the frame as UCSD kept within 12 at the halftime break. 

Hawai’i came out of the locker rooms slowly to start the third quarter as UC San Diego brought the score within five before three minutes had run off the game clock, forcing a UH timeout. 

The Rainbow Wahine stabilized momentarily, cracking off an 8-0 run over 84 seconds to put the lead back above 10 before UCSD tightened things up on the defensive end. The programs would trade buckets over the final four and a half minutes of the quarter as Hawai’i entered the fourth with a nine-point lead. 

The Tritons’ comeback effort was aided by a tighter whistle from officials as the visitors used an aggressive offensive attack to quickly force five fouls on UH and enter the bonus with 5:56 left in regulation. With the help of solid free throw shooting, UCSD cut Hawai’i’s lead down to just three with 4:30 remaining after a pair of makes from the charity stripe by guard Sumayah Sugapong. 

That’s when the battle-tested ‘Bows would come through again. 

Wahinekapu and fellow guard Daejah Phillips scored ten consecutive points over the next three minutes of game action to put the contest away to pick up the Rainbow Wahine’s first home victory against UC San Diego. UH is now 2-3 all-time against the Tritons since the programs began competing against one another two years ago.  

UCSD’s Sugapong and Damilola Sule each contributed 15 points in the loss for the Tritons, who fell to 3-4 in conference play — seeing the teeth of the Big West gauntlet early. 

Wahinekapu led all scorers with 16 points, adding five rebounds and three assists for good measure as the Rainbow Wahine continue the best start to conference play under coach Laura Beeman. Phillips enjoyed herself another nice, stat sheet-stuffing night off the bench with 15 points on 50% shooting (4-of-8 FG) to go along with three boards, a pair of assists and a couple steals for good measure.  

Hawai’i now packs up for a critical road trip against some of the Big West’s best, first visiting UC Santa Barbara for a re-match of the 2023 Big West Tournament title game in a matchup between #1 and #2 in the conference’s standings before taking on a Cal Poly squad that sits just a game and a half back of the Rainbow Wahine’s current place on the hilltop.  

Hallie’s (Bird)song: The crescendo of the Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine’s “Why”

Hallie’s (Bird)song: The crescendo of the Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine’s “Why”

Hallie’s (Bird)song: The crescendo of the Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine’s “Why”

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JAN 17, 2024

HONOLULU – The University of Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine basketball team will enter the January 18 matchup against Long Beach State in a position that has become familiar over the past three seasons – near the very top of the Big West conference standings. 

In fact, success is something that ‘Bows fans have been accustomed to in head coach Laura Beeman’s tenure. The Rainbow Wahine snapped a 20-year absence from the NCAA Tournament in 2016, just four years after Beeman’s arrival. The year prior saw Beeman pilot the Rainbow Wahine to a 15-game win streak, the program’s longest string of wins since 1997-98, en route to a third consecutive appearance in the women’s National Invitational Tournament for UH. The CSU-San Bernardino alum would do it again in 2018, marking the fourth NIT invite for her program in six seasons. 

Close by, a local Kalani product watched intently as her state’s home school saw a revival of the women’s basketball program ahead of her high school career. For Hallie Birdsong, the University of Hawai’i was always her collegiate destination. Like basketball, UH was a shared passion amongst her family. 

Her dad is UH football great Norris Birdsong, who scored the first of many touchdowns by UH running backs inside the old Aloha Stadium. He and Birdsong’s uncle were also avid basketball players and fans, the UH junior said.  

Her dad took on duties of coaching the youthful hooper and “still coaches me now to this day,” she said cheerfully, joking that the old football player cannot help but continue to give instructions even now that she is a collegiate basketball player. 

Her dad’s coaching, coupled with a competitive nature of her own, led to a love of basketball for Birdsong. When younger brother, Norris Shaun Birdsong Jr., was introduced to her life, she saw a chance to improve her game while experiencing the thrill of being an older sister. 

“Now that he’s older and a lot bigger than me, I’d say our games of one-on-one are a lot more competitive,” UH’s junior guard laughed in a phone interview. “I’m just that big sister that’s always trying to push him and encourage him to be the best he can be.” 

Birdsong’s positivity manifests itself in many ways. In one, it makes her a great family member and friend to the inner circle that she credits for helping keep her so upbeat – serving as a constant bright light to those around her. After Hawai’i’s blowout win over CSUN on January 6 that saw Birdsong score her first collegiate bucket, Laura Beeman was sure to share how important the reserve guard has been to the team. 

“Seeing Hallie hit that pull-up jumper was very, very fun. Many games, she’s our “why” and she’s very humble about what she means to this program, but I think the reaction from the bench and the crowd kind of sums it up,” the veteran UH head coach said to the media about Birdsong after the Rainbow Wahine’s 67-38 win. 

That positivity is also what led to the Rainbow Wahine’s “Why” making the team in the first place. 

After four years of balling out in the OIA for Kalani, Birdsong looked to the next step with eyes on the biggest college in the state. As an underrecruited player with eyes on a spot within the Rainbow Wahine program, the 5-foot-7 guard knew that it would be a steep climb to reach her goals. 

“The program has a lot of history, has a deep legacy especially playing under Coach Laura Beeman and all she’s done,” Birdsong said. 

It had to start with a phone call to Beeman’s staff and a plea for a chance to try-out as a walk-on for Hawai’i, betting on herself, her work ethic and faith. Taking a “leap of faith” after being a self-admitted “late bloomer” growing up, it was a call that Birdsong is thankful for to this day. 

“I’m so blessed and thankful to have the opportunity [to play for UH],” the junior expressed. “I don’t regret [walking on] one bit.” 

While she may have been able to see more playing time at a lower division level (6 games played in 2.5 seasons at UH), the journey was about far more than what happened on the hardwood for her.  

Coming to the University of Hawai’i as a Biology major, Birdsong was interested in health from the start. After taking a couple of public health courses early in her stay at UH, she knew that a change in major was in the cards and promptly switched over to Public Health to pursue a long-term goal here at home. 

Birdsong’s switch to Public Health came with an interest in specifically helping and working with disadvantaged communities on O’ahu with a focus on maternal and children’s health. Those two courses she took opened her eyes to the different paths she could take to help others on her home island. She’s always wanted to do just that – help those around her. 

That is where it comes back to the court. With a team looking for a three-peat in the Big West tournament, Hawai’i has had a target on their back from the moment the season began. The Rainbow Wahine were selected first in the conference’s preseason poll after returning all but two players from last season’s NCAA tournament squad.  

Despite the accolades from the outside, Birdsong reminds that it is about focusing on the people within the locker room and none of the outside noise. That is how the ‘Bows have taken care of business the previous two seasons – not coincidentally the first two years that Birdsong has been a part of the program. 

Her playing time was not much but her impact on the team’s “amazing” culture helped continue cultivating an environment for players to feel comfortable with each other and root for another teammate’s success more than their own. In turn, a family feel remains within a program that has been built upon the foundation of selflessness. 

Birdsong’s bucket perhaps is the best example of this. As Hawai’i had a hearty lead late in the contest against CSU Northridge, well on their way to the program’s best start to conference play in Beeman’s tenure, every fan and player inside SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center remained locked into the action on the court as the junior walk-on entered play with 2:22 remaining. 

As teammates worked to get her a shot, Birdsong stayed ready. When her moment came, she let go of a pair of misses from her last outing and drilled a beautiful pull-up jumper to send the crowd (and her teammates) into a celebratory frenzy. 

It was a moment of exuberance for everyone within SSC but even more for Birdsong. 

A walk-on from the public schools on O’ahu, she made the OIA proud. Continuing to work despite knowing playing time would be scarce, Birdsong reminded herself that “just because something doesn’t go your way doesn’t mean it will always be like that.” 

It was finally time for things to go the junior’s way on the public stage. 

In the end, it also served as proof of concept to Birdsong: “Walk by faith, not by sight.” 

It is the quote she lives by every day of her life, allowing her to “keep [my] head high, eyes straight ahead and keep on walking” towards another storybook season with her Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine teammates.