PULLMAN – Washington State athletic director Bill Moos got a pair of special birthday gifts Friday as his cousin’s daughter starred for the No. 24 Arizona State women’s basketball team while the Cougars pulled out a hard-fought 85-78 win.
Moos, 63, hosted about 20 of his relatives at a pregame meal before freshman forward Kelsey Moos led ASU with 17 points in front of about 100 people from Edwall and Reardan in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
“I made sure to get them seats behind the Arizona State bench,” Bill Moos said of the supporters for Kelsey, who played high school basketball at Reardan. “Kelsey played great and the Cougars got the win so happy birthday to me.”
Arizona State (11-2) came into the game riding a 10-game winning streak. The Cougars had lost their previous game on Dec. 21 at Pullman to then-No. 25 Gonzaga 70-62.
Cougars junior Tia Presley, who played at Gonzaga Prep, said after the Gonzaga loss that her team had come close several times without finishing with a victory.
“This is what we have been waiting for, to have a top-ranked team come in and we close it out,” she said.
Presley, who finished with 17 points, is a bit older than Kelsey Moos, but they played on some of the same AAU teams growing up.
“I told her I’m really proud of her. She’s really stepped up her game a lot,” Presley said. “She’s a great competitor. She’s going to do great things this season.”
Moos grabbed nine rebounds – with three coming on one series – in the game that was in doubt until the final minutes when WSU’s Lia Galdeira and Sage Romberg iced it with free throws.
“It was great to have my family here,” a dejected Kelsey Moos said. “But it was a business trip and we didn’t take care of business. They just executed their game plan and the Cougars played a great game.”
The Cougars (7-6) came out cold and allowed the Sun Devils to take an early lead.
But Galdeira, who finished with a game-high 27 points, got hot and led the Cougars back into the game.
Trailing 38-34 at the half, Romberg, Mariah Cooks and Shalie Dheensaw sparked a comeback. Washington State took the lead early in the second half, but never led by more than seven points.
“It’s an exciting win, a great way to open conference play,” WSU coach June Daugherty said. “We knew it was going to be a dogfight, a war. We were fortunate at the end to make the free throws and get the lead and then keep the lead.”
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