From Pullman- Washington State women’s basketball went ice-cold in the second half, as the Bruins earned a 74-69 victory in Beasley Coliseum on Thursday night. The Cougars needed to win this game to keep themselves in the NCAA tournament discussion but they weren’t able to pull of the victory.
Narri Fields hit a two point jump shot with 30 seconds left in the game to give the Bruins a 72-67 lead. WSU quickly in-bounded the ball to Lia Galdeira who took it coast-to-coast to hit a lay-up and close within three of UCLA, and the Cougars next offensive possession turned up empty as Galdeira’s three-point shot was no good. UCLA hit its final two free throws for the final margin.
The most frustrating part of the game was when WSU held the Bruins scoreless for a couple of minutes, but they were unable to score themselves and the score remained 61-57 for three minutes. Both teams would generate open look during the three minute scoring drought, but they were unable to take advantage.
Washington State actually maintained a lead throughout the majority of the second half. The Cougars took a 55-54 lead after junior point guard Dawnyelle Awa hit a lay-up with 17:23 left in the second half. WSU built a 58-54 lead, it would be the bit biggest lead the Cougars would have in the contest.
UCLA had generated a 49-46 lead at the half after Tia Presley had back-to-back and-ones in the closing seconds of the half. Presley’s first and-one came when she drove into the lane, was then fouled as her shot fell; she missed the free throw, only to pull in the rebound and put up another shot where’d she get fouled again. The senior would hit the second and-one free throw to close within three of the Bruins.
This game was critical to the Cougars NCAA tournament hopes, as UCLA came into this game ranked at No. 90 by the NCAA’s RPI. Losing to a team is ranked 27 spots lower than you, on your home court, is going to give the selection committee pause…especially after a 40 point home loss to your biggest rival.
Washington State plays USC at 3 pm on Saturday.