WSU duo too much for Arizona in Pac-12 opener

LIA GALDEIRA AND TIA PRESLEY led the Cougars throughout the nonconference portion of the schedule. And that did not change as the duo combined for 51 points during Washington State’s 81-70 victory to open Pac-12 play Saturday at Arizona. Galdeira (pictured above) also moved into seventh place on the WSU all-time scoring list, passing Jazmine Perkins.

The Cougars (10-2 overall, 1-0 conference) never trailed in the game and they led by as many as 20 in the second half, aided by a hot performance by Galdeira from the beginning. Galdeira scored 25 points, Tia Presley added 26 points and both players had more points at the end of the first half than any of Arizona's scorers.

It was as if Galdeira could sense the chance to advance on the all-time scoring list. Heading into the contest, she needed only eight points to tie Perkins and she made a huge dent in that deficit within the first two minutes of the game. Galdeira made a 3-pointer on the first possession of the game and then made another shot from long range after a little more than a minute had passed. Both shots were assisted by Dawnyelle Awa, who finished with six assists.

Not to be outdone, Presley exploded for six consecutive points following a timeout with 15 minutes, 53 seconds, to play in the first half. After that media timeout, the Wildcats scored on a layup, but then Presley's onslaught began, prompting the Wildcats to stop play again with a timeout of their own.

With their two leading scorers dominating, the Cougars put the pressure on the Wildcats defensively, as well. WSU shut out the Wildcats' best scorer this season, Candice Warthen (13.0 points per game), in the first half, and limited her to 10 points in the game.

Just when it looked as though the game was over midway through the second half, the Wildcats (7-5, 0-1) tried to make it interesting toward the end of the game. With 10:09 left, the Cougars led 54-48 and then went on a 14-2 run that lasted until less than six minutes remained in the game. But the Wildcats stormed back and trailed only by six points with 3:15 to play. Galdeira made a layup and drew the foul for the chance at a three-point play, which she converted to end Arizona's run. The Wildcats answered that with a layup of their own, but the Cougars slammed the door when Mariah Cooks scored in the paint, and Presley launched a 3-pointer to reach 26 points.

The Cougars entered the game with a massive lead in turnover margin in the conference. WSU led with a plus-6.18 margin, with USC at second-best in the conference, owning a plus-2.67 margin. In this particular game, the Cougars only committed three fewer turnovers than the Wildcats, but WSU scored 19 points off of turnovers compared to 16 scored by Arizona.

Shots were hard to make for the Wildcats when Shalie Dheensaw was anywhere near the ball. The senior center blocked five shots and freshman Louise Brown added three blocked shots.

The Cougars will finish their southwest swing with a matchup against Arizona State on Monday, beginning at 7:00 p.m. PT.

  • Dheensaw grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Cougars, and added eight points. Despite that, the Wildcats outrebounded the Cougars 38-35.

  • The Cougars are now 9-0 when leading at halftime.

  • The Wildcats narrowly outscored the Cougars, 16-15, in second-chance points. The Cougars edged the Wildcats, 13-8, in fastbreak points.

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