Louise Brown makes her mark among WSU's vets

PULLMAN -- Washington State's women's basketball team starts Pac-12 play at Arizona in three days with a tailwind fueled by six seasoned veterans and a 9-2 record. But amidst all that experience stands a true freshman import from Australia whose knack for rebounding is earning not just significant playing time but major-league praise from head coach June Daugherty.

Six-foot-2 forward Louise Brown of Melbourne doesn't start and doesn't score a ton of points, but she's making a huge mark on what could be WSU's best women's team in two decades.

She's averaging 6.3 rebounds per game -- second-most on the team behind senior center Shalie Dheensaw's 7.1. She also has nine blocks, second-most behind Dheensaw's 17.

Quick, long and athletic, Brown's ability to read the ball as it bounces off of the rim and backboard is unlike any Cougar player since scrappy guard Jazmine Perkins, says Daugherty.

"And she's tenacious about it," the head coach says. "She takes it personal when somebody else gets a rebound, that she thinks she should have. That kind of grittiness, that kind of toughness is something that's helped us a lot with her attitude toward it. She feels like that's her role, it is her role, and she takes it very wholeheartedly."

Brown is averaging 20.5 minutes per game, by far the most of the five non-redshirting freshmen on the team.

"Lou is the furthest along because she's been able to settle in right away into her role coming off the bench and being someone who can lift us up, lift us up right away, and usually it's her defense or usually it's her rebounding, things that she can control because of her length, her competitiveness. Right away, she can impact the game," Daugherty said.

BROWN SAID HER MOM -- seeing the combination of athleticism and height -- encouraged her to try basketball as a youngster. "As soon as I stepped on the court and started playing, I loved it straightaway. I could see myself doing this for awhile," Brown said. "I didn't get serious until I was probably 16 (when she moved away from home for basketball training)."

Even before Brown was 16, though, she knew how it felt to win. She said one of her favorite memories of growing up was helping her team win the U16 Australian national championship in 2010 when she was only 14 years old. She would go on to play on more national and Oceania champion teams, including one that captured third place in the FIBA Under 19 World Championships in Lithuania in 2013 and another that took fifth in the U17 worlds in Amsterdam.

"It's kind of surreal, now that you're making me think about it," Brown said of her collection of trophies. "I just kind of do it. I don't really think about it. Go out, work hard, do your thing, and then hopefully you get the cake at the end of it, which we have been, so that's pretty awesome now that I think about it."

Brown received two full scholarships to the Australian Institute of Sport, which is often a fast track to professional basketball in Australia. But Brown said she took her own path to come to the U.S., valuing a good education and serious playing time instead of riding the bench as a youngster in the pro league.

When her WSU days are done, Brown says, she hopes to head home for pro ball.

NOTABLE NOTES
  • Brown chose WSU over scholarship offers from Duke, Pepperdine and Wake Forest.
  • The CouGals open Pac-12 play Saturday at Arizona (11 a.m. PT) and Monday at Arizona State (7:00 p.m. PT). Both games will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

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