Cougars stun Buffaloes with second-half run

PULLMAN-- Not many teams can overcome an afternoon in which they shoot 26 percent from the field. The Cougars did that Sunday against Colorado, edging past the Buffaloes 73-68 to even their record at 4-4 in Pac-12 play and move to 13-6 on the year. Indeed, the final score did not indicate that the Cougs were 2 for 20 at one point in the first half, but a season-high 20 steals helped seal the game.

The Cougars trailed by as many as 12, but they never lost heart. In the eyes of June Daugherty, this WSU squad never looked deflated by the deficit or their shooting woes. Daugherty said this team is truly motivated by losing Shalie Dheensaw for the year, and that Dheensaw's presence in the huddle has been helpful.

"We just have a lot of heart and we never give up. We don't play the score, ever. I don't care if we're down by 20 or down by 2. We're going to play all 40 minutes until the final buzzer and then we won or we lost," said Mariah Cooks (pictured above), who scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds.

Colorado (9-10, 2-6) looked as though they would dominate the entire game, especially with a 28-point performance from forward Jamee Swan. Meanwhile, the Cougars struggled to make any shot from the field, starting 1 for 8. There was even a point in the first half where the Cougars had more points from free throws than they did from the field. With 4:36 remaining in the first half, Lia Galdeira ended that trend with a jump shot -- until then the Cougars were 4 for 29 from the floor (including two three-pointers) and 11 of 13 from the free-throw line.

"I just think we were exerting so much energy on defense, and we weren't moving and cutting as hard as we should have on offense," Cooks said.

Galdeira finished with a team-high 27 points including 12-for-14 from the free-throw line. The Cougs shot 84.6 percent (33-39) from the foul stripe as a team. Galdeira also recorded seven of the Cougars' 20 steals, breaking her own season-high of six steals (Cal, Jan. 9). The Cougars surpassed their previous season-high of 16 steals, which they posted against Idaho State. The all-time WSU record for steals as team in one game is 26, set in 1981.

"There’s no doubt we’re out of sync a little bit offensively the last couple of games. Proud of our kids just playing hard defensively. I thought Mariah Cooks took over the game with her rebounding and just her hard-nosed play late," Daugherty said.

Four Galdeira free throws were the key turning point. Colorado was called for a shooting foul which led to Colorado coach Linda Laape earning a technical. Galdeira hit all four free throws to close the gap to 65-64. Soon after, the Cougars took the lead on two more free throws from freshman forward Louise Brown.

"It was actually pretty calm because June wants us to make 100 free throws before every practice, so it was just a lot of focus and knocking them down," Galdeira said.

With those free throws, the Cougars finished the game on a 13-3 run. But the Cougs need to find a way to better overcome the loss of Dheensaw.

"At this point, we've just got to find a way to get W's until we get our rhythm back and we’re doing it with what our identity has been all year, through the defense. We've just got to keep it up and when we get back in rhythm offensively, look out," Daugherty said.

NEXT UP: The Cougars go on the road to play Stanford on Saturday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. Then WSU will face off against California on Monday, Feb. 2 at 5 p.m. in Berkeley.

  • WSU committed 12 turnovers, while Colorado committed 27. The Cougars outscored the Buffaloes 25-13 in points off of turnovers.

  • Tia Presley and Galdeira were tied for second in the Pac-12 conference for scoring heading into the game, each averaging 19.2 points per game.

  • Presley made her first shot from the field with 18:43 remaining in the second half, and was 0 for 7 from the floor in the first half. She finished with 14 points.

  • WSU lost the rebounding battle 44-40, and is now 7-6 this season when outrebounded by an opponent.

  • The Cougars honored several women's basketball alumni at halftime and a reception was held for them after the game.

  • A crowd of 887 turned out to watch the Cougars' come-from-behind victory on Sunday.

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