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UW at WSU to kick off Pac-12 women’s basketball

Washington State women’s basketball coach June Daugherty can’t wait for the Pac-12 season to begin.

A 9-2 nonconference record will do that for you; so will the prospect of opening the conference season at home on Tuesday against arch-rival Washington.

Tipoff at Beasley Coliseum is at 8 p.m. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network.

“I’m excited for conference play to begin,” said Daugherty, a former UW coach. “The whole conference has done well in the preseason … we’ve had some very good outcomes, and you always root for your Pac-12 colleagues until you play them.”

There’s been a lot to root for so far: the Pac-12 is a collective 109-27, with seven teams at 8-2 or better. One of them is the Huskies, who also are 9-2 and have the nation’s leading scorer in Kelsey Plum.

The ultimate go-to player in the Pac-12 so far this year, the 5-foot-8 junior guard is averaging 27.6 points and better than four rebounds. Plum also has 44 assists, but she’s turned the ball over 52 times.

Talia Walton averages 18.4 points and 8.4 boards, while Chantel Osahor’s 10.1 rebounds rank her 17th in Division I. More important, the Huskies are seven points from being unbeaten, having lost by four to Syracuse and by three to Oklahoma.

The Cougars (7-11 in the Pac-12 last year) are coming off a big 66-53 win at Kansas, their confidence boosted because they did it largely without leading scorer Borislava Hristova.

“I guess we’re not a one-horse team,” Daugherty said of Hristova, who averages 18.2 points and 3.9 rebounds. Senior guard Dawnyella Aya (7.9ppg, 3.1 apg) came up big at Kansas with a career-high 19 points.

Beyond that, Daugherty said he’s happy to be getting a boost from several seniors, including Mariah Cooks and Taylor Edmondson, “who aren’t starting, but it’s not bothering them.”

“Here, it’s team first,” said Daugherty, adding that depth has allowed the Cougars to wear teams down while outrebounding opponents by an average of four per game.

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