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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Huskies keep Cougars winless in Pac-10 play

PULLMAN – Washington State women’s basketball coach Sherri Murrell sat down after another loss, another lost opportunity and felt sick.

Stricken by the same flu bug that had three of her players out of practice most of the week and one in the hospital, Murrell watched her team let another opportunity for WSU’s first Pac-10 win of the year slip away.

The Cougars tied Washington on the first possession of the second half and were down by four six minutes later, but from there they couldn’t hang with the more physical Huskies, trailing by as many as 15 and losing 68-61 to fall to 0-9 in the conference (4-14 overall) with one loss to each Pac-10 team.

“If we had got ahead that would have been something for us to really hang our hats on,” Murrell said, her voice hoarse from the illness. “We blew it. We’ve got to win these games. I would have liked to have a healthy group tonight to be able to do it. But healthy or not, we blew it tonight.”

Washington (8-11, 4-5) took advantage of WSU’s continuing proclivity to turn the ball over at an alarming rate, forcing 20 before the 1,460 fans around Friel Court. Of course, those 20 turnovers were actually one fewer than the Cougars’ average in conference play, and less than half a turnover more than their average on the season.

“I really don’t have a true point guard. That’s what’s hurting us,” Murrell said. “We’re just getting tunnel vision. I don’t know if it’s just the pressure of the Washington defense. … Maybe that’s causing the point guard to feel like she needs to get the ball out of her hands.”

Five Cougars had multiple turnovers, but most of the problems came from Washington’s aggressive defense in the half-court.

Huskies head coach Julie Dougherty credited her 5-foot-5 freshman point guard, Emily Florence, for much of that disruptive play.

“Her pressure on the basketball tonight,” Daugherty said, “was the key to us defensively.

“She’s certainly being recognized by her peers as someone you don’t want to go against.”

Washington also pounded WSU on the glass, usually one facet of the game where the Cougars fare well. But Saturday night, the Huskies claimed 11 offensive rebounds in each half and 52 total boards in the game despite having just one player taller than 6-1 getting significant time. Forward Jill Bell had a team-high 15 points and 13 rebounds, a number that matched the rebounding margin between the two teams.

WSU’s two starters in the post, Kate Benz and Emma Joneby, were two of the players out this week with the flu, and Joneby was in the hospital on Monday. The third Cougar out of practices was guard Charmaine Jones, who played just 13 minutes as a result.

“They were too physical with us down below and we let them have it,” Murrell said. “Lack of execution and just fatigue got the best of us. We got tired and they had a lot of transition situations.

“We’ve got a lot of young kids out there and they’re learning. Hopefully this persistence will pay off at one point.”

Washington 68, Washington State 61

Washington (8-11, 4-5)–Bell 6-17 3-4 15, O’Neill 2-9 0-0 4, Florence 0-6 1-2 1, Hicks 3-8 5-7 11, Banks 2-5 7-7 11, Craddock 0-2 0-0 0, Watson 4-8 0-2 8, Schelly 0-0 0-0 0, Castro 0-0 0-0 0, Burt 5-8 0-0 14, Jones 0-0 1-2 1, Clark 0-1 0-0 0, O’Hara 1-2 1-2 3, Plouffe 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-67 18-26 68.

Washington State (4-14, 0-9)–Joneby 4-8 2-4 10, Benz 3-6 0-0 6, Perry 4-11 1-2 9, Montgomery 2-4 1-2 5, Ferguson 5-12 3-3 16, Scales 0-4 0-0 0, Singer 0-1 0-0 0, Jones 1-5 1-2 3, Moore 4-8 4-7 12. Totals 23-59 12-20 61.

Halftime–Washington 29, Washington State 26. 3-point goals–Washington 4-15 (Burt 4-5, Hicks 0-1, Florence 0-2, Banks 0-2, Craddock 0-2, O’Neill 0-3), Washington State 3-8 (Ferguson 3-4, Benz 0-1, Singer 0-1, Scales 0-2). Fouled out–Benz, Perry. Rebounds–Washington 52 (Bell 13), Washington State 39 (Moore 9). Assists–Washington 12 (Burt 4), Washington State 15 (Perry). Total fouls–Washington 19, Washington State 22. A–NA.

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