The Washington State Cougars women’s basketball team is entering the Pac-12 tournament with a 9-20 (4-14) record and the 10th seed.
Head coach Kaime Ethridge’s team is entering Thursday night’s match-up on a four game skid that included a loss to the same Cal Golden Bears 18-11 (9-9) they’ll be taking on in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament. In the regular season finale, the Golden Bears went on a 15-3 run (in the final minutes of the first quarter) to take the lead for good. Kristine Anigwe was the primary reason for Cal’s dominance as she pulled in 30 boards — ten on the offensive side of the court, 20 on the defensive side.
For the Cougs to have any chance at upsetting the No. 7 seed, they’re going to have to do a much better job at boxing Anigwe out, as she was responsible for 67% of the Golden Bears’ defensive boards on Sunday. Unfortunately, that’s going to be a tall task as the senior is currently leading the defensive rebounds…and Washington State really has no one to size up with Anigwe in the post.
If WSU can’t pull in more offensive boards, it’s going to be another long night for the offense. Last time these two teams played, the Cougs jacked up 17 three point attempts and hit four of them. Most of those three-point attempts came after Cal broke the game open at the end of the first quarter.
Going into Thursday night, WSU is going to need to better control the game and stay within reach. They cannot get into a situation where the players on the court try to force up three-after-three-after-three because the Cougs are down by double digit points early; and if the squad does get into a hole early, Washington State has to stay within its offensive game plan. The worst thing they can do is panic and force up bad shots like they did on Sunday. That will be a recipe for disaster…and another big day for Anigwe in the paint.
On the offensive end for WSU, they need to keep feeding redshirt junior forward Borislava Hristova. Hirstova has been the team’s most dynamic scoring threat this season; and she was underutilized against Cal a few days ago. Not including free throws, Hirstova only attempted 16 field goals (14 two-pointers, two three-pointers).
Cal continues to stymi the Cougs offensive game plan and forces more bad shots. As a result, the team panics and starts firing off three-pointers in what could be the last game of the regular season. This game plays out a lot like Sunday’s as the Golden Bears take an early lead into the first break…then keep building on it in the second quarter.
WSU – 60
Cal – 86