PULLMAN – Washington State didn’t get too many breaks down the stretch but the Cougars kept clawing until an unusual ending allowed No. 14 Louisville to escape Beasley Coliseum with a 75-71 women’s basketball win Monday.
The Cougars, on the verge of being buried down the stretch, closed to within 73-71 with 12 seconds left and appeared to have forced a turnover on a tie-up when they trapped Shoni Schimmel in the corner. However, the referee in front of the Louisville bench gave the Cardinals a timeout with 4.5 seconds to go.
Then the Cougars fouled Shawnta’ Dyer with three seconds left and tried to call a timeout, only to get called for a technical foul because they didn’t have a timeout left. Schimmel made the two technical free throws before Dyer missed her two, but the damage was already done.
“There was a lot of confusion going on,” WSU coach June Daugherty said about the closing seconds, especially the held ball. “It was an interesting call, I’ll say that much.”
Schimmel, a sophomore from Oregon and a Native American, plus her freshman sister Jude, helped WSU, which deemed it Native American Appreciative Night, draw a non-student crowd of 2,109 that supported the visitors as much as the Cougars.
Schimmel didn’t disappoint. Although she missed all eight of her 3-point shots, she scored eight of her 14 point in the final three minutes and had eight assists, five rebounds and four steals with just two turnovers in 38 minutes.
“I thought the game in Portland got a little of the excitement out of the way,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said of the homecoming trip. “I was really proud of Shoni. She struggled from the field but … made some really nice passes. … She’s such a versatile player.”
WSU (6-5) led from midway through the first half until about midway through the second. The Cardinals (11-2) stayed in the game by softening up the Cougars inside with Dyer, Bria Smith and Asia Taylor. Then they regained the momentum by finally hitting from the outside.
The Cardinals only hit 5 of 17 3s but back-to-back bombs from Becky Burkey put the visitors up 52-50 with 9:22 to play.
Then Shelby Harper and Burke nailed long ones on consecutive possessions to put Louisville up 63-57. That lead got to eight before Jazmine Perkins and Ireti Amojo hit back-to-back 3s and the battle to the finish was on.
“The first half we played some stellar defense,” Daugherty said. “In the second half, where we lost the ball game, is defensively we were not poised.”
It’s the third time this season WSU lost a tight game to a ranked team.
“It’s been a little bit different each time,” Daugherty said. “Tonight it was the simple things we’ve been doing well. … You have to have better communication with a crowd like this and keep your focus for 40 minutes.”
Amojo led all scorers with 22, going 9 of 9 on free throws. Perkins had 19.
Dyer came off the bench to hit 6 of 7 shots to lead Louisville with 16 points. Burke had 14 and Smith 11, including Louisville’s first seven of the second half.
The Cougars started out tentatively and fell behind 11-3 but found themselves midway through the half. A pair of 7-0 spurts were part of a 21-7 run that produced a 35-26 halftime lead.
Amojo fueled the first surge, hitting from the wing and following with a 3-pointer after a pump-fake took care of her defender, to tie the game at 21.
“I thought we had more energy in the second half,” Walz said. “We got a little frustrated in the first half. They did a very good job of attacking us and we were standing around. We gave up 11 offensive rebounds in the first half and only four in the second half.”
Cook led the charge with 12 points.
“We’ve got to have other people step up,” Daugherty said. “The feeling in locker room was some people didn’t play their best game, but the good thing about this team is that they don’t sulk. I think we’ve learned a lot. Got to take these lessons and put it to work.”