Cougars scratch firstBefore Dayton takes on the Zags, the Flyers first play Friday at 7 p.m. in Pullman against Washington State. Coach June Daugherty said she can’t wait for the early season challenge in Friel Court. “Basketball season is finally here. We are really excited,” Daugherty said. But playing Dayton is “going to be a great test for us.” She said he high-power scoring duo of junior Lia Galdeira and senior Tia Presley (Gonzaga Prep) gives her team the potential for a “special season” after the Cougars (17-17, 9-9 in Pac-12 last year) played in the postseason for the first time in 23 years. “They love to win. They both have this unique ability to focus in on game day,” she said of her all-league guards. Daugherty said the team had a special focus during the spring and summer to address the mental aspects of the game after the team showed it could beat any team and turn around and lose to an inferior opponent. “I think mental toughness was a big thing for us to address in the off-season,” she said. “It seems in two months of practice that we are getting better in that area. Hopefully, consistency will come out of that and we won’t see the highs and lows.”
Eagles to UtahEastern Washington women’s basketball also opens Friday at 3:30 p.m. when it travels to Orem, Utah to take on Utah Valley. Eastern returns four starters, including All-Big Sky guard and top scorer Lexie Nelson. The Eagles started slowly last year before finding their stride in conference play. Eastern finished with an overall record of 16-14 and 12-8 in the Big Sky. The Wolverines return three starters on a team that finished 7-23 last year.
Vandals raid CaliforniaIdaho plays first Friday among the area Division I women’s basketball teams when it tips off at 2 p.m. at Cal State Northridge. The Vandals return four of five starters on a team that went 25-9, won the Western Athletic Conference and earned its second consecutive bid to the NCAA Tournament where it got beat 88-42 by Louisville. The Vandals now are playing in the Big Sky and have been picked to finish third by the conference coaches. Idaho returns leading scorer Stacey Barr, who averaged 18.2 points and 7.7 rebounds a game.
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