Louisiana Tech Coach Kurt Budke knew the team that set the pace yesterday would earn a spot in the Western Athletic Conference title game. The sixth-ranked Lady Techsters did just that, taking the lead early in the first half and dominating on defense to beat Hawaii, 85-58, in Tulsa.

"We thought if it was in the fifties and sixties, Hawaii would be right in this game," Budke said. "But if we could, get the score up where it was a pace they don't like to play at and we are very comfortable with."

Cheryl Ford led the Lady Techsters (28-2) with 21 points, 17 in the second half. Louisiana Tech also outpaced the Rainbow Wahine (14-13) on inside shooting by Amisha Carter and Trina Frierson.

Frierson had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Carter and Amber Obaze each added 14 points.

The victory was the 26th straight for the Lady Techsters, who have the longest winning streak in the country. They will play Fresno State in today's title game. Fresno State beat Southern Methodist, 81-67, earlier yesterday.

Hawaii committed 21 turnovers, 13 of them in the first half.

Coach Vince Goo said Louisiana Tech's performance was typical for a team that has gone undefeated in the conference. He said he hopes the Lady Techsters represent the WAC well in the NCAA tournament.

"With the way they were playing tonight, they definitely will," he said.

Hawaii took the lead twice early in the first half at 3-2 and 8-6. But even against the WAC's leading defense, Tech went on a 10-0 run at the 14-minute 47-second mark, led by six points from Carter. Hawaii struggled to hit the basket and never came closer than six after that.

* BIG WEST: Jess Hansen scored 16 points, and Mia Fisher added 15 to lead No. 17 UC Santa Barbara past UC Irvine, 83-50, in the Big West semifinals in Anaheim, Calif.

Lindsay Taylor contributed 13 points, and Brandy Richardson had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Gauchos (25-4).

The Gauchos have won 20 consecutive conference tournament games over seven seasons.