It’s “T” time in Pullman.
The Washington State women’s basketball team is off to a 6-2 start for two reasons.
“Time and talent,” second-year coach June Daugherty said. “Time – it’s our second year in the program. The four seniors have been phenomenal leaders and know what we’re trying to do. Last year was like learning Chinese for them, it was so foreign.”
And the Cougars have a healthy infusion of talent.
From a heralded freshman class of seven, three are starting and a fourth has a key role: backup point guard.
Indicative of where the Cougars are, all five starters are averaging in double figures.
Senior starters are post Heather Moltzen (10 points, 7.0 rebounds) and wing Katie Appleton (12.9 points).
The other starters are freshmen: Jazmine Perkins, a 5-10 guard from Berkeley, Calif., is leading in scoring (15.0), assists (32) and steals (19); April Cook, a 5-8 guard from Carson, Calif., was the leading scorer (now 14.4 ppg) until making just one basket against Idaho last weekend, which happened to be the game winner; and Rosie Tarnowski, a 6-1 forward from Philadelphia, averages 10.6 points and 6.1 rebounds.
Danielle LeNoir, a 5-6 guard from Los Angeles, comes off the bench and has the best assist-to-turnover ratio and averages 3.3 points.
Daugherty called Perkins explosive on offense and the defensive stopper; Cook a winner; Tarnowski an inside-outside threat and student of the game; and LeNoir a boost who could score more.
The other freshman playing is Lexie Pettersen, a 6-1 forward from Shadle Park, who averages 9.5 minutes.
Jessica Oestreicher, a 6-8 post from Shasta Lake, Calif., should play this week after having minor knee surgery last month. Kelly Grad, a 5-8 guard from Auburn Riverside (Wash.), is redshirting.
“We’re excited,” Daugherty said. “We’ve had solid play in the preseason and we’re excited about the success. We know we have a long way to go.”
The Cougars have fared well in the preseason in recent years, but navigating the Pac-10 schedule has been a different story. WSU has won 60 games in the last 10 seasons, but only 22 in league play. In the last seven seasons, the Cougs have 10 league wins.
They’re off to Hawaii to play the Rainbows (2-7) Friday and Monday. Mark down Dec. 28, when Kansas State (9-0) and ranked 23rd, visits Pullman for a noon game, as one to see.
Gonzaga (8-3) is playing at Montana (7-2) Friday, with the game moved up to a 4 p.m. tipoff to accommodate Grizzlies football fans. The Zags face Wyoming (6-3) Monday. … Idaho (3-6) is at Montana State (4-5) Saturday. … Eastern Washington (4-6) squeezes in two games, at Cal Poly (5-4) Saturday and Northridge (1-8) Monday. … CC Spokane and North Idaho both play in Salem, Ore., in tournaments hosted by Chemeketa CC. The Sasquatch play in the Crossover this weekend, the Cardinals in the Holiday next weekend. … Whitworth is off until starting league play at home Jan. 2.
Arizona State senior Briann January (Lewis and Clark High) leads the Pac-10 in assists (4.9) and steals (3.6), which is eighth in the nation. … Weber State junior Tonya Schnibbe (University) is fourth in the nation in assists (7.6) and also leads the Big Sky in assist-turnover ratio while sitting fourth in scoring (14.1). … New Mexico senior Angela Hartill (Riverside) had her first career double-double in a 64-54 win over Texas Tech on Saturday and tied a career high with 20 points in a 66-43 win over UTEP on Tuesday. She leads the Mountain West Conference in free-throw percent (34 of 37 for 91.9). New Mexico (10-1) is 10-0 at home. … Idaho has three two-sport athletes, Elizabeth Barth (volleyball), Ferris grad Liz Boyden (soccer) and Anna Sandman (soccer).
The Pac-10 has some games worth watching this week. No. 21 Arizona State is at No. 5 Texas and Washington plays No. 1 UConn in Cancun on Thursday. Saturday, No. 7 Baylor is at Oregon and Sunday No. 3 Stanford, which lost to No. 8 Duke Tuesda, goes to No. 11 Tennessee (ESPN2, 5 p.m.).