Make no mistake: Coug women for real

JUNE DAUGHERTY'S unwavering optimism that she could build a contender in women's basketball at Washington State is looking more like prophecy than fantasy. Sure, the Cougar women let go of a late lead against Colorado in Pullman on Saturday and dropped a 57-56 nailbiter to a team that had lost just once coming into the contest. But facts are facts: The new era in WSU women's hoops is here.

WSU, now 9-7 overall and 3-1 in Pac-12 play, is for real. The loss Saturday stings, especially in light of the fact the Cougs led by 11 at one point in the second half.

But the fact they could "let one get away" after shooting just 25 percent from the field and getting outrebounded 46-34 speaks to how far the program has developed.

No statistic stood out more than this one: Colorado had 21 turnovers to WSU's 9.

That's why the CouGals led this game so long. They were cold as ice from the field but they hung in with defense and ball care. Daugherty likes to get up and down the court quickly, but with turnover margins like that she may be channeling the ghosts of Dick and Tony Bennett.

Given the decades of woe in women's hoops at WSU, this is a strange, enticing new world.

Though probably not for Daugherty, who has been steadfast in her vision and her recruiting since coming on board five years ago.

Against Colorado, senior guard Jazmine Perkins, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, was all over the court again. She scored 15 points to lead all scorers, while also grabbing 6 rebounds and 3 steals. She also had one assist and one blocked shot.

She was far from a one-woman show, however. And therein lies the magic of this team. Eleven women played for the Cougars and ten of them scored.

The players coming off the bench, led by Rosetta Adzasu and Brandi Thomas, tallied 26 points, 16 rebounds and 8 steals. That is not only huge, but illustrates something the Cougar women haven't had since the days of Jenni Ruff: depth.

That's why these Cougars are for real. That's why Daugherty's long-promised "new era" in women's hoops is finally here. It's why this season promises to be a blast.

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