Plan good, final score not as CouGals fall

PULLMAN -- Games plans are one thing, executing them another. "There's times you can do it, and there's times you can't," said Washington State women's basketball coach June Daugherty on Sunday after her Cougs lost another tight one to No. 7-ranked Oregon State. "Tonight we were able to do it," she said. And yet the Beavers overcame a 21-5 first-half deficit to pull out a 61-56 win.

"For Oregon State to go 6 of 23 from three-point range, that was the game plan," Daugherty said. "That was the hope and our kids executed it. It's a game of adjustments, it's a game of runs. Our kids know that, and I thought we were really focused on the adjustments that we needed to do, both offensively and the defensive side of the ball."

For much of the last two decades, a Cougar team taking a top-10 club down to the wire -- twice in one season, in the case of the Beavs -- would have been cause for joy. But in a year that began with so much promise, the loss Sunday, however narrow, was nothing but salt in the proverbial wound.

The loss was the Cougars' fourth straight and dropped them to 13-10 overall and 4-8 in Pac-12 play.

With the defensive game plan Daugherty drew up, the Cougars were able to shut down OSU's 6-6 star center Ruth Hamblin. She came into the game averaging 13.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. On Sunday, she finished with 10 points and four rebounds.

Daugherty said 6-5 center Bianca Blanaru gave the Cougars a valuable 14 minutes against Hamblin. Those minutes by the freshman allowed the Cougars to play one-on-one defense against Hamblin instead of double-teaming her and allowing the Beavers to shoot well from the perimeter, Daugherty said.

When the Cougars did go with the double-team, Oregon State's frustration was obvious. The Beavers began the game by shooting 3 of 15 from the field. The Cougars played aggressively with hands in the faces and swarmed to OSU shooters when they were open on the outside.

WSU junior guard Lia Galdeira (pictured above) scored a game-high 23 points to move into second place on the WSU all-time scoring list.

When Galdeira picked up her second foul, Daugherty said the Beavers used a zone defense to take away senior standout Tia Presley's looks at the hoop. Presley scored eight points in the first half, but only managed one in the second.

Galdeira was taken out of the game with 6:35 left in the first half, and remained on the bench for the rest of the half. The Beavers' defensive adjustment allowed them to climb back into the game by only needing to focus on one scorer in Presley, Daugherty said. The Cougars clung to a 31-30 lead at halftime, after leading 29-21 when Galdeira went to the bench.

"I think in the first half, we were getting a lot of our points off of transition and rebounding the ball and pushing it. In the second half, they started making shots, so we were having to take the ball out of bounds and then run an offense," Presley said. "Everything got slowed down a little bit. They're such a good defensive team that when they slow you down, it's hard to get the shots you want."

Oregon State (21-2, 11-1) never led in the first half, and took its first lead with 11:55 remaining in the game. The Cougars lost narrowly to the Beavers in the first matchup of the season, 73-70 in Corvallis.

"We look forward to a third shot at this team, and we know that will be in the Pac-12 tournament. We're going to keep getting better at every position, and hopefully stay healthy, and have a third shot at them because both games have gone down to the wire," Daugherty said.

NEXT UP: WSU hits the road to Colorado on Friday and Utah on Sunday. The following week they play back-to-back games against Washington: on Feb. 20 in Seattle and Feb. 22 in Pullman.

  • WSU shot 45.2 percent from the field in the first half, but only managed to shoot 22.5 percent (9 of 40) in the second half.

  • Oregon State outrebounded the Cougars 42-37. WSU is now 7-9 this season when they lose the rebounding battle.

  • WSU recorded 12 offensive rebounds compared to Oregon State's six offensive boards; however, the Beavers outscored the Cougars 3-2 in second-chance points.

  • Oregon State committed 19 turnovers, and WSU committed 10. The Cougars outscored the Beavers 12-9 in points off of turnovers.

  • The final attendance for the game was 1,102.

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