SEATTLE – The Washington State women’s basketball team could almost hear the music of the Big Dance, but a night of flat shooting doomed its run with a 70-60 loss to Oregon State in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals on Saturday.
The all-conference scoring tandem of Lia Galdeira and Tia Presley lost their touch in the first half as the Beavers (23-9) raced to a lead that the Cougars (17-16) were never able to overcome.
The guards caught fire late, but it wasn’t enough as Oregon State kept hitting clutch shots and free throws.
“Obviously, the shots weren’t falling,” coach June Daugherty said. “But there was no quit in this group. It was a just a testament to them. They scratched and clawed. They left it all out on the floor.”
Galdeira set a Pac-12 tournament scoring record with 16 for the game and 75 for the tournament. But she took a horrible fall on her left wrist. She missed several minutes and returned with the wrist heavily taped.
“She wanted to keep playing. She’s a warrior,” Daugherty said. “It was a gutsy performance for the whole team.”
Presley led the Cougars with 18 points and Taylor Edmonson scored 11 in the loss.
The Cougars earned a trip to Saturday night’s semifinal by taking down Oregon in the opener and upsetting No. 20 Cal in the quarterfinals on Friday.
With a chance at meeting USC in the tournament final, WSU faced a team it had lost to twice during the regular season.
Third-seeded Oregon State shot 48.3 percent from the field in the first half and raced to a 33-20 halftime lead. The Cougars hit just 26.7 percent in the half.
The only offensive spark came from reserve guard Taylor Edmonson, who hit two 3-pointers and led the Cougars in scoring with eight first-half points. Presley made just two of six shots for five points and Galdeira hit only one of five shots and scored three points.
Washington State missed its first eight shots of the second half, helping the Beavers pull away for a second consecutive easy victory. The Cougars used a late run to pull within 67-58 in the final minute, marking the first time in Oregon State’s two games in the tournament that an opponent has been within double-digits in the second half, but the Beavers held on down the stretch.
Daugherty said Oregon State threw several defenses at the Cougars that confounded them. She made some changes to spark the offense, but they ran out of time.
“It tough,” center Shalie Dheensaw said. “We always start out nervous. At the end of the day, the shots weren’t falling.”
Washington State hit just 32.5 percent of its field goals for the game. Oregon State shot 44.4 percent and was paced by Sydney Wiese’s 20 points.
Ali Gibson scored 16 and 6-6 center Ruth Hamblin scored 11.
With the win, Oregon State moved one step closer to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1995-96. The Beavers have won 11 consecutive games, the third-longest current streak in the country and the program’s longest winning streak since OSU was 14 in a row in 1982-83. It will be the Beavers first appearance in the Pac-12 tournament title game.
USC 72, Stanford 68
Cassie Harberts scored 10 straight points for USC in the final three minutes, and the Trojans held on in the closing seconds to upset the fourth-ranked Cardinal in the other Pac-12 semifinal.
USC will play for the championship and an automatic NCAA tournament bid tonight against Oregon State. It will be the first time since the tournament’s inception in 2002 that Stanford will not play in the championship game and will mark the Trojans’ second appearance in the title game.
Harberts’ scoring run came after Stanford had rallied from a 10-point deficit to take a 60-57 lead with 5:06 remaining. Harberts finished with 13 points. Alexyz Vaioletama led USC (21-12) with 19 points.
Chiney Ogwumike scored 30 points for Stanford (29-3), but did not score in the final seven minutes.