Cougar women take page from Bennett book

WASHINGTON STATE NEEDED this one bad. The Gonzaga women had won four in a row over WSU and this would be the Cougs' last chance to show something against a well-regarded opponent before Pac-12 play begins. Facing a rowdy sellout crowd of 6,000 on the road, the Cougar women did something the old Dick Bennett teams used to do…

They caught fire coming out of the locker room to begin the second half.

The team who played harder and best took care of the "little things" was always going to win this one. And winning those first two minutes of the second half certainly qualified in both respects.

WSU forced two quick turnovers to erase a 32-26 deficit on buckets by Brandi Thomas, Tia Presley and Carly Noyes. Just like that, the first half Gonzaga scoring runs of 11-0 and 9-0 were gone and forgotten.

For Washington State (4-7), the 57-51 win on Saturday was a big deal. Gonzaga entered the game 10-3 and was receiving votes in the polls. And much of the luster of the Cougs' upset victory over No. 19 Ohio State had faded by the time the Cougs pulled into Spokane on Saturday with a 3-7 mark.

But Washington State took the lead for good on a Sage Romberg trey at the 14:00 mark. It was still anyone's game until the final seconds, with Gonzaga never trailing by more than five points until Lia Galdeira buried a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to push the lead to 55-48.

But WSU found something in those first possessions of the second half. And they played like it the rest of the way.

Presley led WSU with 15 points, freshman forward Mariah Cooks added 12 off the bench and Galdeira chipped in 11. Cooks came through big on the line over the final four minutes, hitting 6-of-8 free throws.

  • Washington State opens Pac-12 play at home against Arizona on Friday, followed by a matchup with ASU on Sunday.

  • WSU leads the all-time series 17-4 against Gonzaga but the two teams don't play regularly -- they hadn't beaten Gonzaga in four tries since 2001 and it was the first series win for the Cougs in Spokane since 1997.

  • WSU notched its first road win of the season, as Cooks scored a career-high 12 points, Galdeira hit a career-best three 3-pointers and Presley matched her career-high with four steals.

  • Noyes grabbed six rebounds to up her career total to 398.

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