The Washington State women’s basketball team (10-2, 1-0) opened up its conference schedule with a 81-70 win over the Arizona Wildcats (7-5, 0-1). Washington State is off to its best start since the 1988-89 basketball season (also a 10-2 start); the win was also the Cougars sixth straight.
Despite being down by 18 points, Arizona used a full court press to slow down the WSU offensive attack. The Wildcats went on a 14-0 run to bring the Wildcats within six (68-62) of the Cougars at one point. Arizona’s run happened because of some ill-advised shots by the Cougars as the shot clock was winding down.
Shooting guard Lia Galdeira put an end to the Wildcats run with a lay-in, and the and-one.
Tia Presley hit a huge three pointer to push the Cougars lead back to 10. Arizona started fouling after Presley’s three-point shot, pretty much handing the game to Washington State.
Washington State actually led by 17 points at the under eight media timeout. But the Cougars were unable to hold onto that lead, as the Wildcats full court press threw off WSU’s timing on the offensive end of the court.
The Cougars built the lead thanks to the aggressive defensive play by Galdiera and Presley. Galderia picked off a pass, and raced down the court to hit a easy lay-in to widen the lead to 14. On the Wildcats next possession, Presley intercepted a pass infront of the Arizona bench and took it down the court. WSU quickly got the ball onto the other end of the court, and a couple of passes opened up point guard Dawnyelle Awa for an uncontested three.
Arizona ended the Cougars 14-0 run with six minutes left in the ball game.
For Washington State, the Cougars 10-2 record is their best start in 26-years and has them firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Saturday’s 10-point victory over Arizona is a prime example of what WSU is going to have to do to put an end to its 23-year NCAA tournament drought…beat up on struggling conference opponents like Arizona.
The Cougars have been aggressive on the defensive end of the court all season long, and it played a key part in Washington State’s victory over the Wildcats. Washington State forced 16 turnovers, creating 16 points off of said turnovers, while blocking eight shots. Despite the lack of turnovers, the defensive performance was solid and helped the Cougars secure their first conference victory of the season.
The dynamic duo of Galdeira and Presley scored 51 of the Cougars’ 81 points — Galdeira scored 25, and Presley scored 26. When those two are hitting shots like they did on Saturday, there aren’t many teams in the country that are going to be able to beat the Cougars.