If Washington State’s thrilling come-from-behind victory over Gonzaga represents a shift in regional dominance of women’s basketball, coach June Daugherty said it came because a few players were willing to take some lumps before they could attain bigger things.
Washington State beat Gonzaga 59-58 Tuesday night at the McCarthey Athletic Center after Tia Presley’s layup captured the team’s first lead in the second half with 35 seconds to play. Lia Galdeira added two free throws and Gonzaga scored at the buzzer, but not the 3-pointer required to extend the game.
“It’s been a building process, obviously,” Daugherty said. “Success at the Pac-12 level isn’t going to happen overnight.”
She said the Cougars brought in players such as Presley (Gonzaga Prep), Shalie Dheensaw and Galdeira who wanted “a shot at the title.”
“It wasn’t all rainbows and lollipops,” Daugherty said. “They knew they would have to take some tough losses. They knew we would have to work to get the program where we wanted it.”
Washington State (7-2) has wins over No. 22 Dayton, No. 10 Maryland and Gonzaga, which fell out of the rankings earlier in the season after close losses to American and No. 17 Iowa.
The Cougars last year recruited seven freshmen and four of them were 6-foot-2 or taller. Daugherty said the team needed that length to compete with elite teams. It seems to have worked.
Against Gonzaga, which can dominate teams with size, the Cougars outrebounded the Zags 34-32 and outscored the Bulldogs 30-28 in the paint. The Cougs also limited second-chance points by holding the Bulldogs to three offensive rebounds.
The teams combined for 44 turnovers, 24 by Gonzaga and 20 by Washington State. The Cougars outscored the Zags 25-13 in points off those turnovers.
No reason to panic
Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier said her team played well on defense and disrupted Washington State for most of the night. The Zags shot 46.5 percent from the floor for the game, which allowed them to lead for 33 minutes.
“We’re certainly capable when we take care of the ball,” Fortier said. “Games are not won or lost in the last 6 seconds. We did not play a full 40-minute game.”
The loss was the fourth close game in the last five for the Zags (5-3), as the team tries to adjust to new guards.
Except for the blowout victory over Portland State, the Zags failed to close out American (59-56 loss); their comeback fell short against Iowa (79-67 loss); it took an Elle Tinkle buzzer beater to beat Eastern Washington (61-60 win); and Tuesday’s one-point loss to WSU.
Fortier said the team has missed the senior presence of forward Lindsay Sherbert, who hurt a knee in the Iowa game.
Sherbert had been averaging 10.8 points and five rebounds in the five games she played.
She had been sporting a full-length knee brace and had a doctor’s appointment this week, but the team has not announced the results.
Sherbert’s outside shooting “is a big part of what we do,” Fortier said. “It’s tough to see her on the sideline.”
Regardless of extent of the injury, Fortier said she will continue the redshirt seasons for junior Kiara Kudron and freshman forward Jill Barta.
Tinkle “has really stepped up for us in absence and has made some big plays for us,” Fortier said.
Baylor takes down Vandals
Kristy Wallace hit six 3-pointers and scored 24 points Wednesday as No. 9 Baylor (7-1) defeated Idaho 88-70 in nonconference play at Waco, Texas, that showcased Australian players. Wallace, a freshman, just returned after missing five games to play for homeland team. Fellow Australian, senior guard Stacey Barr, hit five 3-pointers and scored a season-high 31 points for the Vandals (4-4). Ali Forde added 14 points for Idaho.
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