Cougs come up short with leading scorer out

PULLMAN – June Daugherty expected a physical contest heading in to the game against Utah – and that's exactly what she got. Unfortunately for the Cougars, though, they were outscored 26-20 in the paint en route to a 59-57 loss on Saturday. Washington State's first conference loss of the season came without leading scorer Lia Galdeira, who was "banged up" in Friday's win over Colorado.

"It's better for the long haul, for Lia and for our program to get her healthy," Daugherty said after the game. "She would play if we let her play today but that's not in her best interest right now."

Daugherty said no decision has been made on when Galdeira will return to action.

In the absence of Galdeira, scoring for WSU (11-7, 5-1) was by committee with six of the 10 Cougars who saw playing time scoring at least six points. Tia Presley led the team with 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting, including a last-second unsuccessful 3-pointer as time expired. Sage Romberg had 12 points (5-9 FG) and was the only other Cougar in double figures.

"We knew that people were going to have to step up and I think Taylor Edmondson stepped up big time," Shalie Dheensaw said. "Alexis (Williamson) came in and I think that they did a really great job."

Edmondson, who took Galdeira's place in the starting lineup, scored eight points on 4-of-8 shooting in 32 minutes on the floor.

The Cougars were outrebounded by the Utes (8-9, 1-5) 30-32 and it was Michelle Plouffe and Emily Potter who proved to be the most dominant on the glass. Both players finished the day with a game-high 17 points, Potter grabbed ten rebounds and Plouffe chipped in eight boards.

Mariah Cooks led the way for WSU with six rebounds.

"It definitely was a huge factor in the game, as close as it was," Daugherty said. "It's so important that when the shooter shoots and you're on her that you have to keep her off the boards and I thought we took a step back today."

Plouffe scored the go-ahead layup with 2.4 seconds remaining to clinch the Utes' first conference win of the year.

"I think (Potter and Plouffe) dominated maybe the second half," Daugherty said while noting Plouffe sat most of the first half with foul trouble. "I thought we did a pretty decent job on Potter. Where I think both of them got loose was the last four or five minutes of the ball game."

Dheensaw battled foul trouble most of the game, primarily guarding Plouffe in the paint where the Cougars were not only outscored but also failed to get whistles down at the other end. Utah shot 21 free throws to the Cougars' nine attempts. WSU had 16 personal fouls to the Utes' 11.

"I thought it was really physical inside and outside they were calling hand-check and we were asking to give us some consistency," Daugherty said. "If you're going to call it on the outside call it on the inside because at times, that can dictate shots not going in." Next up for WSU is a trip to Oregon next weekend for matchups against the Ducks (7 p.m. Friday) and Beavers (2 p.m. Sunday).

"We should have a lot of confidence going into the next few games because we started out really well," Romberg said. "We don't want this to be continuous losses, we want to turn this around and get wins right away over in Oregon."

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Utah proved to be the more efficient team, shooting 47 percent (21-44) from the field and 44 percent (4-9) from three-point range. In comparison, the Cougars shot just 40 percent (23-57) from the field and 33 percent (5-15) from distance.

  • Attendance was announced at 957.

  • In addition to her six rebounds, Cooks added seven points and three assists in 17 minutes of play.

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