WSU women's hoops: Corner finally turned?

TALK ABOUT impressive. Washington State's women's basketball victory over No. 10-ranked Nebraska on Saturday was especially notable because it was on the road in front of a boisterous crowd AND because star WSU sophomore Lia Galdeira only played 17 minutes due to foul trouble.

True fact. With arguably their best player sitting on the bench for more than half the game, the Cougars posted the program's first victory over a top 10 team since 1998 at Arizona.

They did it by blasting Nebraska's zone defense with tremendous outside shooting. The CouGals drilled 12 treys, shooting 48 percent from downtown.

It was a marked – yet expected – improvement on their long-distance accuracy.

"Honestly, not to be boastful, this is what I know this team can do," head coach June Daugherty said. "We went to Europe in August and this is what we were doing. We hadn't found our rhythm from the 3-point line, although we have some very good shooters."

To say the Cougs hadn't found their rhythm is an understatement. In a four-point loss to Syracuse, they hit just 4 of 24 three-point shots. In an 11-point loss to Hawaii they were only 2 of 18 from downtown, and in a seven-point setback to BYU last Tuesday they hit but 3 of 18 from three-point land.

Not so against Nebraska. The Cougs came out gunning and at one time built a 19-point lead.

Sage Romberg, Taylor Edmondson, and Galdeira led the way with three makes each from downtown, while Dawnyelle Awa added two and Brandi Thomas one.

Romberg's accuracy in Lincoln (75 percent from beyond the arc) raised her season total from long distance to 47 percent, ranking her fourth in the Pac-12 in three-point accuracy. The 6-1 senior from McKinleyville, Calif., also ranks seventh in the conference in blocked shots (1.13 per game) and 10th in defensive rebounds (5.0 per game).

She is not the only Cougar who ranks among the best in the Pac-12 in one or more categories.

Guard Tia Presley, who led the Cougs with 17 points at Nebraska, is No. 4 in the conference in scoring average at 20.5 per game. The Pride of Spokane is also seventh in steals (2.0 per game).

Galdeira, meanwhile, is 10th in the Pac-12 in scoring average at 16.9 and third in steals (2.38 per game).

In addition, Shalie Dheensaw, a 6-4 center from Victoria, B.C., who pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds at Nebraska, ranks No. 8 in the Pac-12 with an average of 7.9 rebounds per game.

The Cougars are 4-4 on the season and take on Cal State-Northridge this Wednesday at Beasley at 7 p.m.

That will be their final game until Dec. 15 when they travel to Dayton, Ohio. Afterward, they're in store for a load of home cookin'. The Cougs will play UC-Riverside in Kennewick at 4 p.m. on Dec. 18 and then close out the non-conference portion of the schedule Dec. 21 in Pullman against Gonzaga. Tip off for that one is set for 11:30 a.m., with TV coverage on the Pac-12 Networks.

The Cougs then open Pac-12 action with three straight home games: against Arizona State on Jan. 3, Arizona on Jan. 5 and Washington on Jan. 7. The Zona (noon) and UW (7 p.m.) games will be carried on the Pac-12 Networks. In a strange bit of scheduling, the Cougars will turn right around after the UW game to take on the Huskies again, in Seattle, on Jan. 11 in another Pac-12 Networks contest.

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