SEATTLE – The Washington State women’s basketball team found itself in a track meet with an Oregon team that loves to run. But fire came off the fingertips of Lia Galdeira and Tia Presley as both scored 31 points in a 107-100 win.
In what may be the last game ever coached by 75-year-old Paul Westhead, the Cougars and Ducks traded shots all night en route to the highest scoring game in Pac-12 Tournament history. The Cougars (16-15) advance to play No. 20 California (21-8) tonight at 6 p.m.
“I can’t imagine how tough it was for them to come out and play with what was going on,” WSU coach June Daugherty said. “It was an honor and privilege to coach against Paul.”
Oregon officials announced this week that the contract would not be renewed for Westhead, who has coached in Eugene since 2009 after winning titles in the NBA and WNBA.
Asked if the waiting on the announcement would have changed the outcome of the game, Westhead deadpanned: “No.”
“I think our team played about as hard as they could. (WSU) played with terrific effort,” Westhead said. “Good for them.”
The Lia-Tia scoring tandem set a school record earlier in the week when they were both named to the All Pac-12 team. On Thursday night, they set another record when they became the first two players in school history to score than 30 points in the same game.
Smoke came from the scorer’s table as both teams raced up and down the court on a scoring treadmill. The only thing missing appeared to be defense.
The lead changed hands 11 times in the first half alone as Oregon’s 6-3 sophomore Jilian Alleyne and freshman Chrishae Rowe put on a scoring and rebounding clinic that kept the Cougars trying to find points just to keep up.
Rowe had 18 first half points and Alleyne had 13 to go along with 13 rebounds. But Presley, a 5-9 junior guard who played at Gonzaga Prep, was even hotter as she poured in 19 points to go along with Galdeira’s 18.
The Cougars had a nine-point lead with only 40 seconds before the half but Rowe hit a 3-pointer and Alleyne hit two free throws to make it a 59-55 Cougar lead at half time.
The Cougars then came out cold and missed four straight shots. But reserve guard Taylor Edmonson hit one of her career-high four 3-pointers that got the Cougars on track.
Daugherty said she wasn’t concerned about the slow start to the half.
“I’m always confident the shots are going to fall,” she said. “With this group, why wouldn’t I be?”
The teams fought back and forth with the Cougars maintaining leads that twice slipped to one point.
Oregon made its last run when Alleyne hit a jumper with 2:11 to play to pull within 98-95.
“You look up and the score board is blowing up,” Daugherty said. “I never was comfortable the entire game.”
Well, except for the next play. Washington State brought the ball up, and point guard Dawnyelle Awa desperately tried to find someone open.
“I heard Lia yell ‘Sis,’ That’s what she calls Dawny,” Daugherty said. “She found her somehow.”
Awa slipped the ball through traffic and Galdeira caught it, stepped back behind the 3-point arc and buried a shot that effectively put the game out of reach with 1:49 to play at 101-95.
“I never felt the game was out of sight,” Westhead. “But inside a minute was tough. We needed some 5-point shots.”
Oregon’s Alleyne, who led the nation with averaging more than 15 rebounds a game, finished with 28 points and 21 rebounds, which also set the Pac-12 record for most rebounds in a season.
Rowe finished with 29 points. Senior guard Ariel Thomas scored 16 points and had 13 rebounds. Post Falls native Katelyn Loper finished with 13 points and five rebounds for the Ducks.
The Cougars had strong performances from Edmonson, who scored 14 points, and center Shalie Dheensaw, who scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Awa had four points, but she handed out eight assists.
Daugherty now must turn around and prepare her players for a California team that beat them twice. The second loss was a 75-68 overtime loss last week in Berkeley, Calif.
“We will come out fired up and ready to play,” Presley said. “It’s going to be a war.”
Utah 65, Washington 53: Michelle Plouffe scored 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead No. 11 seed Utah to an upset over sixth-seeded Washington.
The Utes will play third-seeded Oregon State in a quarterfinal tonight.