LOS ANGELES – Sometimes the ball just won’t go through the net, gravity be damned.
Such was the case with 10.6 seconds remaining in Washington State University’s Pac-10 women’s basketball tournament opener Thursday night at USC’s Galen Center.
The Cougars’ KiKi Moore, named to the conference’s All-Freshman team this week, drove to the middle of the key, stopped and popped from 8 feet. The ball hit the right inside of the rim, spun down, around, down again, but agonizingly for WSU, out.
A missed Arizona free throw and a missed last-second attempt from just inside midcourt from WSU’s April Cook was all that was left in Arizona’s 62-60 win.
The underclass-dominated Cougars finished 8-22 in coach June Daugherty’s third Pullman season.
“We had quite a few of those today,” said Daugherty of Moore’s late game-tying attempt, citing WSU’s 35.4 percent shooting.
Quite a few, sure, but none as important.
Despite Arizona not starting first-team All-Pac-10 post Ify Ibekwe, benched for the first 8 minutes for “team issues,” according to coach Niya Butts, the Wildcats broke out to a 12-point, first-half lead. They built it to 14, 48-34, with 11 minutes, 23 seconds left, riding the 22 points of Soana Lucet and Ibekwe’s 14 points and 10 rebounds.
With nothing left to lose, the Cougars picked up the pressure. Sophomore guard Jazmine Perkins, who suffered an ankle injury near the end of the first half, returned and, along with Cook and Moore, harassed the Wildcats (14-16 and headed for a game today with No. 2 ranked Stanford) into mistake after mistake.
“Once we went with Jazz, we just stayed with her, because we didn’t want the ankle to tighten up,” said Daugherty, who played the same five players all but a few seconds of the final 8 minutes.
And Cook, 2 of 9 from the floor at that point, heated up.
Cook and Perkins combined for 16 of WSU’s final 21 points, with Cook finishing with 18 overall and Perkins nine.
Only timely baskets from the 6-foot-2 Ibekwe and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Davellyn Whyte – 13 points on 6-of-20 shooting – kept the Cougars at bay.
Still, when Perkins followed Moore’s miss with 2:14 left, WSU had pulled within five. Three misses by Whyte later, Rosie Tarnowski hit her only 3-pointer – the last of WSU’s nine – from the left corner, 58.1 seconds remained and the Cougars were within two.
But neither Moore’s jumper or, after Ashley Frazier missed the front end of a one-and-one, Cook’s 40-foot hope that hit the left side of the rim, found it’s way through the net.
Oregon State 52, Washington 42: Julie Futch had 17 points as the 10th-seeded Beavers (11-19) rallied to upset the seventh-seeded Huskies. Sami Whitcomb led Washington (12-17) with 18 points.