“I saw a ‘thumb up’ and a wink,” the coach said. “You go with your horse. I’m definitely proud of her.” Daugherty had cause to be proud of many of her players on this night. The Cougars trailed most of the way and won despite shooting 36.4 percent from the floor, making 20 turnovers and drawing 22 fouls. Somehow, the Cougars snapped Gonzaga’s 27-game, regular-season home winning steak. “I think it shows we have the heart of a champion,” Daugherty said. “We’re going to trust each other, keep playing hard and find a way to win. “In the past, we didn’t always have that. Now we have it.” Presley seconds the motion. “This team is just tough and has showed a lot of character,” Presley said. “This year, we’ve played in a bunch of these ‘scrap’ games where it looks like it’s going to be ugly most of the time. “Last year, these games were turning into losses, so this year, we just find a way to just battle through.” Presley enjoyed an outstanding high school career at Gonzaga Prep, located a couple long 3-pointers from McCarthey. Kelly Graves, the longtime Gonzaga coach who is now in his first year at Oregon, did not recruit Presley. “His loss, not mine,” the fiery Presley once said. Presley has established herself as one of the greatest players in WSU women’s basketball history. She refused to gloat when asked if a win over Gonzaga is more satisfying than most for her. “This question is asked so much,” Presley said with a smile. “To me, every win is a big win. It’s not about beating Kelly or beating Gonzaga. We have bigger goals than that.” Specifically, the Cougars -- who finished 17-17 last season after losing to Montana in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) -- want to qualify for the NCAA tournament for just the second time in school history. The Cougars made it to the Big Dance in 1991; Gonzaga has made it six straight years. A win over the Bulldogs should boost WSU’s confidence, although the current Gonzaga team is a far cry from the powerhouse GU squads of recent years. Gonzaga was ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 earlier this season, but that was based on history more than current production. The Bulldogs received no votes in this week’s Top 25 poll; WSU received seven votes to rank 31st. “They’re a very good team,” Daugherty said. “They’re very well coached. They’ve got great size. I think their guard play is improving every game for them.” Perhaps, but Gonzaga’s backcourt is no match for Presley and Galdeira. The latter scored only nine points Tuesday on 2-for-15 shooting and ran into foul trouble in the second half after Presley sat out much of the first half with two fouls. Galdeira’s ankle hopefully will benefit from an 11-day break in the schedule. The Cougars play Montana State in Pullman on Dec. 20, visit Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles on Dec. 22, then open Pac-12 Conference play Jan. 3 at Arizona.
PRESLEY HITS THE AIRWAVES AFTER 21-POINT NIGHT