PULLMAN – The margin of Gonzaga’s 64-56 nonconference women’s basketball win over Washington State in Beasley Coliseum could be measured in who managed misfortune better.
The Bulldogs survived the loss of their first-half scoring leader, Jill Barta, to an ankle injury early in the third quarter better than the Cougars dealt with an abysmal night of poor shooting and foul trouble.
“It was a tough situation, Barta going down like she did. She’s a tremendous player,” WSU coach June Daugherty said. “They rallied, went small ball and got back into the game. Kudos to them and their coaching staff.”
Her own team failed to show up, Daugherty said.
“It was a cluster out there,” she said. “So many whistles early, bad shots, shots not falling, missed layups. “(Mentally), you’ve got to find a way to erase that. We didn’t do that tonight.”
Instead, the Cougars struggled all game, shooting 21 of 75 from the floor.
“To shoot 20 percent is pathetic,” Daugherty said.
The Cougars also finished the game with five players with four fouls each. When it went to the bench, WSU was unable to sustain momentum in a close game that was tied both at the end of the first half and the end of the third quarter.
“The next person up has to step up and get it done,” Daugherty said.
“We allowed the fouling situation to get to us.”
Caila Hailey made five steals and a block for the Cougars and grabbed five offensive rebounds. Yet she still criticized herself for letting a 2-for-7 night shooting and four fouls affect her defense in the second half.
“It’s the most frustrating part,” Hailey said.
“In the third and fourth quarter, we started letting up.”
The Bulldogs opened a brief five-point lead in the fourth quarter before Hailey successfully drove on Laura Stockton, drew a foul and hit the free throw to cut the Gonzaga lead to three.
Almost immediately, Zykera Rice put back a Stockton miss, was fouled by Nike McClure and added the free throw. Then Jessie Loera disrupted WSU’s next possession by picking Borislava Hristova’s dribble and dishing to Rice, who scored again. It pushed the Bulldogs’ advantage to 57-49, and that was pretty much it for the Cougs.
For all their difficulties scoring, the Cougars did look to be the stronger team inside. They outrebounded Gonzaga by five and outscored the Bulldogs in the paint 28-10. It seems it should have counted for more than it did.
“We’ve got to toughen up,” Daugherty said.
Rice was the game’s leading scorer with 19 points. Barta followed with 15 before she was injured.
Hristova paced WDSU with 13 points and Hailey followed with nine.