What a difference a week made for the Washington State women’s basketball team.
Seven days ago, the Cougars were celebrating one of the biggest weekends in program history with their first weekend sweep of USC and UCLA in 22 years.
Now they’ve lost another key player, along with two games in the desert.
“I thought we were on a roll, and then came Friday the 13th, one of the worst day of our lives,” WSU coach June Daugherty said, referring to last week’s 68-49 loss at Arizona State that also claimed two freshman guards.
Early in the game, WSU lost Cameron Fernandez, who suffered a concussion that delayed the game for half an hour.
“Sounds like a ‘M*A*S*H’ report, doesn’t it?” Daugherty said.
However, Washington State was still in the game at halftime and trailed by just seven when point guard Chanelle Molina was fouled in the paint and landed awkwardly.
As it turned out, Molina – a two-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week – suffered a knee injury that Daugherty fears will end her season.
The two injuries add to the already difficult season for Washington State. The team’s top two threats, forwards Borislava Hristova and Louise Brown, were injured earlier in the year; neither is expected back this season, although Brown has done some light workouts.
Two days later, the Cougars lost 56-55 at Arizona to fall to 8-10 overall and 3-4 in the Pac-12.
Stepping up when called upon, juniors Caila Hailey and Pinelope Pavlopoulou combined for 28 points. Underneath, the Cougs’ bigs off the bench found their way with freshman Kayla Washington scoring a career-best 12 points sophomore Nike McClure had a career-high 13 boards.
“I thought we competed pretty hard in the game,” Daugherty said. “We’re competing every game, but you have to be able to play better.
The Cougars host eighth-ranked Washington on Sunday.
Barta back in the groove
So much for any thoughts of a sophomore slump from Jill Barta.
After averaging just 10 points in her previous three games, the Gonzaga forward scored 22 and 33 to help the Bulldogs take a pair of road wins over Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary’s.
The other reward was Barta’s second West Coast Conference player of the week award.
Barta led GU with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting against Loyola, then had a career-best 33 against Saint Mary’s. Barta was 10 for 10 from the foul line in that game, the first Bulldog be perfect on double-figure attempts since Courtney Vandersloot was 11 for 11 against UCLA in 2011.
On the season, Barta averages 17.4 points per game, second in the WCC and 72nd in the NCAA.
The Zags host Santa Clara on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Eagles find offensive rhythm
Eastern Washington’s offense is in midseason form, which is great, considering it’s the middle of the season.
The Eagles were just one point shy of 100 last weekend in a 99-85 home win over Weber State that also improved their record to 9-7 overall and 4-1 in the Big Sky Conference.
But style points are nice, too. The Eagles hit 57 percent of their shots and got to the foul line 41 times.
“I think this is a tempo we are more comfortable playing at,” said head coach Wendy Schuller, who got 26 points each from Delaney Hodgins and Ashli Payne.
“I thought offensively, especially in the second half, Ashli and Delaney were playing with a lot of confidence and stepping up doing big things,” Schuller said.
The Eagles’ 99 points matched the point total from two days earlier, when they shut down Idaho State 58-41.
“I always say we are built to play however we need to play, and I think this weekend was a good indicator of that,” said Schuller, who has won 19 of her last 21 games against conference opponents.
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