Area teams look to recover from losses
June Daugherty summed it up quite simply.
“We have to be able to rebound,” the Washington State women’s basketball coach said in a telephone news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Daughtery was speaking literally, of course, about rebounding in order to get more looks at second and third shots in an effort to jumpstart the Cougars’ offense – which has been out of sync and is still adjusting after losing guard Ireti Amojo, a key component.
It’s not just the Cougars who need to rebound, however. After last week, all area Division I women’s basketball teams are looking to bounce back from losses – some more surprising than others.
The most shocking loss, of course, was Gonzaga’s 66-63 home loss to West Coast Conference rival Saint Mary’s – ending the Bulldogs’ 34-game WCC win streak that began at the end of the 2008-09 season. If you count their play in the WCC Tournament since then, the Bulldogs (15-3, 4-1 WCC) had won their previous 40 conference games.
“We’ve forgotten about it,” Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said Tuesday. “I’ve been coaching a long time and I knew we weren’t going to win every game forever. I was hoping it wouldn’t happen at home and against a contender, but … I’m not displeased with our effort. (The loss) is a setback, but I’m thinking of the bigger picture, and I’m not deeply concerned.”
As a result of the loss, Gonzaga – which has won the past seven WCC regular-season titles – dropped three spots in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll to No. 25. After cracking the Associated Press Top 25 poll last week, the Bulldogs fell off the list this week.
The Bulldogs are on the road this week, beginning with a stop at Santa Clara (8-9, 1-3) on Thursday night – where Graves will go head-to-head with former assistant coach Jennifer Mountain – and an afternoon game at San Diego (12-4, 3-1) on Saturday.
“(Santa Clara) shoots the ball well and they often score three at a time,” Graves said. “We have to run them off the 3-point line. We expect a real battle. We have to play extra hard and stay extra focused.
“With San Diego, they’re tenacious,” he added. “They play really good defense. We have two big tests this week and I am confident we’ll bounce back.”
Daugherty’s Cougars (9-8, 3-2 Pacific-12 Conference), who are also on the road twice this week, are also looking to bounce back after Saturday’s loss to Washington – their 33rd straight loss to the Huskies.
“Obviously we were disappointed in our play this weekend,” Daugherty said. “The big thing for us is we’re trying to get back into a rhythm offensively, and we haven’t been able to do that for a few games. I think it’s just a matter of time before we kind of get that rhythm back, and when we do then we won’t have to count on our defense as much as we’ve had to count on it to create offense.”
WSU will have a tall order against the conference-leading Stanford Cardinal (15-1, 6-0) on Thursday night and Cal (13-5, 4-2) on Saturday afternoon.
Daugherty will also be up against a familiar face in longtime Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, whom Daugherty assisted for four years in the late 1980s. In 52 meetings, the Cougars have never beaten Stanford – ranked No. 4 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls.
The Eastern Washington women also had a disappointing weekend when they saw a three-game winning streak come to an end after dropping a 56-53 contest to defending Big Sky champion Northern Colorado on Saturday.
The Eagles (10-9, 4-2 Big Sky) will be on the road for their next three conference matchups, beginning with Portland State (11-6, 3-2) on Saturday. The Vikings are 6-1 at home this season.
After dropping their first two Western Athletic Conference contests last week, the Idaho women are looking to end a five-game skid when the Vandals (5-13, 0-2 WAC) host Nevada (4-12, 0-1) on Thursday in their WAC home-opener and follow up by hosting Fresno State (13-4, 1-0) on Saturday evening.
Whitworth can’t hold on
Whitman rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half to defeat host Whitworth 78-70 in a Northwest Conference women’s basketball game Tuesday night.
Whitworth led 52-40 early in the half, but went cold from the floor and was outscored 38-18 the rest of the way.
Lexi Belcher had 26 points and nine rebounds for the Pirates, who fell to 3-4 in the conference and 7-9 overall. Whitman is 5-2 and 9-7. Kayla Johnson added 17 points for the Pirates.
Jenele Peterson scored 22 points to lead the Missionaries.
Whitworth goes on the road for three straight games, beginning Friday night at Willamette.
Big Sky tabs Montana’s Baker
Montana junior Katie Baker is the Big Sky Conference women’s basketball player of the week.
The forward from Coeur d’Alene scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in each of Montana’s two wins last week, giving her four double-doubles in the team’s past six games.