"During summer and preseason practices we saw it as a team and as coaches they saw it too. Every day she was getting better," sophomore forward Mariah Cooks told Cougfan.com this week. "The strides she's made from last season to this season are ridiculous."
A year ago, Dheensaw played in 29 games but didn't start a single one, and averaged just 2.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per outing.
This season she's started all 16 games and is averaging 7.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
But, oh, what she did against the Huskies last week.
In the first matchup against Washington, in Pullman last Tuesday, Cooks said it was "awesome" to see Dheensaw's improvements on display in a game that mattered so much for so many reasons.
Dheensaw posted 11 points and 14 rebounds in that game and then followed it up in Seattle on Saturday with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
In WSU's 4-0 run to start Pac-12 play, Dheensaw averaged 10.8 points and 12.3 rebounds per outing.
While Dheensaw says rebounding "is the only stat that I care about," there is perhaps no better barometer of her rapid rise than blocked shots. For the season, she has 17, second-most on the team behind Romberg. But get this: 11 of the 17 were collected over the first 12 games of the season and a whopping 8 of them have come over the last four contests.
The turning point?
Likely the two-a-day practices head coach June Daugherty put in place during the holidays, when the Cougs had 12 days between games.
"It wasn't fun," Dheensaw said of the regimen. "But it got us to isolate the post and the guards separately and start to focus on things that we needed to work on."
Dheensaw credits teammates with pushing her to work hard, and says the full-speed 5-on-5 drills Daugherty puts them through are boosting intensity and motivation.
The Cougs will need every bit of that power source Friday at Friel Court, when they hope to extend their unprecedented Pac-12 start with a win over No. 21-ranked Colorado (11-4).
"I think we do great when we're the underdog team, so we're going to come out with a lot of fire," Dheensaw said. "We're looked as an underdog, but we know we can play as a ranked team, so when people look at us an underdog we take it almost as an insult and it excites us and it gets us going."
The Cougars, 10-6 overall, are 2-1 this season against top 25 teams. They defeated No. 10 Nebraska and No. 24 Arizona State and lost to No. 22 Gonzaga.
MARIAH COOKS (left) and SHALIE DHEENSAW.