HONOLULU, Hawai’i – Richelle Velez and Niya Mitchell combined for 49 points as Texas Southern closed out its trip to the Aloha State with a 74-57 win over Hawai’i.
TSU would battle back from an early six-point deficit in the first quarter with solid defense as Mitchell, Ataiya Bridges and Jekalen Jones hit three straight baskets for a 16-15 lead. Hawai’i’ would reclaim the lead briefly but a three-pointer from Bridges in the final minute gave TSU a 19-17 lead to end the quarter.
The Tigers slowed offensively to begin the second quarter as Hawai’i’ went on a 15-5 run to regain a 32-24 advantage with 3:03 remaining. However, TSU stepped up its defensive intensity and forced three turnovers which allowed them to cut the deficit in half as the Rainbow led 32-28 at the half.
Ciani Cryor jump started the TSU offense in the third quarter with an early basket followed by her own steal and layup to tie the game at 32-all. After two missed free throws by Hawai’i, Richelle Velez’s jumper moved the lead back into the hands of TSU but Hawai’i’ would tie the game again several minutes later. Velez’s three-pointer moved TSU on top 37-34 and began a shooting exhibition for the senior from Lake Jackson, Texas.
Velez had the hot hand as she nailed three straight three-pointers to move TSU ahead 46-39 with 3:06 left. Mitchell would shortly take over the offensive duties as she scored the final six pints of the third quarter to extend TSU’s lead to 52-39.
TSU would never look back in the final quarter as they kept its foot on the gas. After the Rainbow closed to within 10 early in the quarter, TSU responded with a 10-0 run to lead by 20 (63-43). Hawai’i’ would cut its deficit to 11 with four minutes remaining but Mitchell and Velez made sure to close the door as they combined for eight points to seal the win.
The win evened the all-time series with Hawai’i’ at 1-1 and also marked the first time Hawai’i’ has lost to a team from the SWAC in five tries.
Velez nailed seven three-pointers to lead TSU with 25 points while Mitchell posted a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds. Ciani Cryor missed a triple double by three points as she scored seven points to go along with 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
After playing four games in three days, TSU will have some much-needed time off as they’ll travel to Boulder, Colo. on Dec. 3 to face the University of Colorado.