SEATTLE – Washington State knew the statistics favored Stanford on Friday night, but the Cougars were already ahead before the game began.
The hard reality of being eliminated from the Pac-12 Conference women’s basketball tournament meant far less in the big picture to the Cougars, who were heartened by the return of head coach June Daugherty.
Daugherty, who missed Thursday’s opening-round win over Arizona State following an appendectomy, sat behind the bench and offered pointers during timeouts as top-seeded and fourth-ranked Stanford wore down the Cougars 79-60 in a quarterfinal at KeyArena.
“Her presence did it all,” said freshman guard Lia Galdeira, who led WSU (11-20) with 16 points. “She didn’t have to say anything.”
“I don’t want to do it anymore. It wasn’t that good,” said Daugherty, who was cleared to attend by her surgeon and WSU’s team doctor, as long as she stayed in a safety zone during the game. Her husband, Mike Daugherty, again served as interim coach.
WSU had no answer for Stanford’s 6-foot-4 junior Chiney Ogwumike, who finished with 23 points and 21 rebounds to become the first player in tournament history with a 20-20 double.
Her 21 rebounds set the tourney single-game record and her 15 defensive rebounds tied the record.
“It’s awesome, cool, but the numbers don’t matter much in the scheme of things,” said Ogwumike, who said she got the biggest charge from her teammates’ play.
“I believe she’s the best post in the country,” June Daugherty said.
The Cardinal (29-2) mixed in a tough 3-point game. Junior Sara James went 5 of 8 on her way to 17 points and the team was 10 of 21. WSU shot 5 of 24 from long range and 25 of 72 overall.
“We had some good looks, we just didn’t knock them down,” Daugherty said. “Stanford was good from 3-point range and that put us back on our heels a little bit.”
The Cardinal used runs of 8-0 and 10-0 for a 26-9 lead with 7½ minutes left in the first half.
Balanced scoring helped WSU cut the edge to 31-23 with 1:45 left, but Amber Orrange beat the 30-second clock with a basket and Ogwumike went coast-to-coast after a steal for a layup at the buzzer.
James hit two 3-pointers early in the second half and the lead was 45-25. The Cougars never came closer than 14 points after that.
“It was a much tougher team than we played last week,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said, referring to the Cardinal’s 72-50 regular-season win.
“Probably the most important thing was to see June Daugherty behind the bench and know she’s doing well,” VanDerveer added.
“We’re looking forward to coming back and staying longer next year,” Daugherty said.
WSU has six freshmen, three sophomores, four juniors and seniors Katie Grad and Carly Noyes.
“Keep watching this team because I’m so excited for them,” said Noyes, who finished as WSU’s career leader for games played (125), starts (119) and blocked shots (158).