WSU women use defense to defeat No. 22 Dayton

PULLMAN — June Daugherty may have to pinch herself. On a night when Washington State's women's basketball team shot barely more than 31 percent and was out-rebounded 56-47, the Cougars still won going away, defeating No. 22 Dayton 76-60 in the season opener Friday in Beasley Coliseum. And the peg around which the victory was built was an elusive one: defense.

Stopping the opponent was the Cougars' Achilles' heel in the 2013-14 season, and defense became a major focus in the run-up to this campaign.

The increased attention appeared to pay off Friday in front of a home crowd of 827. The Cougars won the turnover battle 30-16 and they held the Flyers to 31 percent accuracy from the field.

“I’m excited about our defense. I thought that we stepped up tonight and our team played 40 minutes defensively, like we thought this team could play," said Daugherty, who is in her eighth season at WSU.

Senior guard Tia Presley led the Cougs in thievery, with 4 steals. She also had 18 points.

“... to come out here and stop a team like Dayton is a really good sign for our defense and a really good sign for our team. It feels good to have them come here and get a win back when we lost down there last year ... even when we’re shooting bad, we can still play really hard on defense and that’s what carried us through this game, so it’s a good sign to see that even when we’re not shooting well, we can beat a team like Dayton,” Presley said.

Lia Galdeira (pictured above) paced the Cougars in points (21) and rebounds (8). She also chipped in 3 steal.

All the points notwithstanding, Galdeira's stat line was illustrative of the Cougars' woes on offense. She started out 0-for-7 from the floor and finished 5-for-17.

She was 2 of 8 from downtown and the Cougars as a whole were 6 of 22 (27 percent) from the arc.

“We’re going to shoot the three when we’re that open. We’d have liked to have connected on a little bit more of them but we’ve just got to catch it in rhythm a little bit better,” Daugherty said.

Galdeira hit two three-pointers on consecutive possessions to finish the first half with 10 points.

“She’s a great shooter. She’ll miss shots here and there, and then she’ll start to make them so I don’t really think she gets too worried when she misses. She’ll keep shooting. She’s not a player to back down, so I never get too worried about her,” Presley said about Galdeira.

Five of WSU's seven true freshmen saw action, with Pinelopi Pavlopoulou of Greece setting the pace with 8 points and 6 rebounds in 12 minutes. Aussie Louise Brown played 18 minutes, pulling down 6 rebounds and going 0-4 from the field. Caila Hailey had 2 steals and 2 assists in 4 minutes, while Ashley Bolton registered 1 rebound in 4 minutes. Romanian Bianca Blanaru played 1 minute. Nike McClure and Krystle McKenzie did not play.

“The freshmen did awesome. I’m really excited for them, for their first big game being a Coug so it’s a great sign to see the impact that the freshmen had in their first game, and I can’t wait to see what else they’ll do this year,” Presley said.

“It was good. It felt great. We had our fans for the first time, and it was a new experience for me because I’m a freshman and I played overseas. It’s something a lot different, but we had great energy as a team. We didn’t make a few shots, but our defense was great and it kept us in the game,” Pavlopoulou said.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • The Cougars average a height of 6-0 across the entire roster, and it showed at times Friday. Washington State blocked four shots in the game, three of which came from senior Shalie Dheensaw

  • WSU posted four wins against ranked teams last season, and had the 14th-toughest schedule in the nation.

  • The CouGals will be back in action Sunday at Beasley against Idaho State. Tip off is at 1 p.m.

  • Cougfan Top Stories