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Editor’s note (March 12): The Big West Conference announced that it will be canceling the Big West Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament, effective immediately.

Julissa Tago dribbling the ball
Senior guard Julissa Tago and the Rainbow Wahine will open the Big West Conference Tournament on Wednesday, March 11.

No spectators will be allowed at this week’s Big West Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19. Nine teams are in the conference, including the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

The women’s tournament begins March 10–11 with early-round games at Long Beach State University’s Walter Pyramid. The men’s quarterfinal games are on March 12 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., followed by the men’s and women’s semifinals on Friday. Both championship games will also be at Honda Center on March 14.

The No. 4 seed UH Mānoa Rainbow Wahine (15-14, 9-7 BWC) are scheduled to play on Wednesday, March 11, against the highest remaining seed at 5:30 p.m. HST and the No. 4 seed UH Mānoa Rainbow Warriors (17-13, 8-8 BWC) will play No. 5 seed UC Davis on Thursday, March 12, at 5:30 p.m. HST.

“I’m sure it was a difficult decision for the Big West Conference, as it was for both the Ivy League and MAC, which have also taken measures with COVID-19. I particularly feel for our dedicated fans who have sacrificed their time and resources to make their way to Anaheim to support our men’s and women’s basketball programs. Regardless, this will not hinder our teams from representing the state of Hawaiʻi with a championship mindset,” UH Athletics Director David Matlin said.

“All season long our players have played for the person to their left and to their right. With the announcement from the BWC regarding canceling fan participation for the tournament this mantra will resonate louder than ever. The health and welfare of everyone is always our first concern. Whether there are fans in the seats or not, we will not be alone. Aloha cannot be stopped,” Rainbow Wahine Basketball Head Coach Laura Beeman said.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing that we won’t be able to play in front of our tremendous fans, our band, cheerleaders and dancers who always travel so well in support of us. Right now, we are only concerned with what we can control. Despite the unique situation, our focus will continue to be on preparing for the tournament and putting forward the best performance we can,” Rainbow Warrior Basketball Head Coach Eran Ganot said.

“The Big West Board of Directors, comprised of the chief executive officers of the nine member universities, strongly feel that this is a prudent way to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus while being sensitive to our student-athletes who have pointed towards playing in the tournament all season,” Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell said.

—By Marc Arakaki

All games will be televised on the ESPN family of networks. Those who have purchased tickets will receive full refunds.

Drew Buggs dribbles basketball
Junior guard Drew Buggs and the Rainbow Warriors will open the Big West Conference tournament on Thursday, March 12.
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