CouGals force UW out of zone, win big

WITH POST-SEASON hopes hanging by the proverbial thread, Washington State's women's basketball team blew into Seattle on Friday against the favored Huskies, built a huge early lead, lost it, and then stormed back in the second half to win 83-72. The victory was the Cougars' third straight against the Dawgs, and they'll get a chance for a fourth on Sunday in Pullman.

Not since 1981 had the Cougars enjoyed a third successive win over Washington. And the margin of Friday's victory -- fueled by hawking defense, outstanding ball movement and a barrage of second half Dawnyelle Awa treys -- was the Cougars' most over the Huskies since 1976.

"We know we are at our best when we move the ball and that's what we tried to do," Tia Presley said in a post-game radio interview. "They had a really hard time staying focused on who they were guarding, so we were getting open shots right off the bat. It was a great team win. I'm so excited to celebrate with my team."

Four Cougars scored in double figures -- Lia Galdeira (23), Presley (17), Mariah Cooks (16) and Awa (11) -- and freshman Louise Brown led the way on the boards with 10 rebounds.

Galdeira turned in an all-purpose effort in front of a crowd of 2,920 that included a notable number of WSU partisans. Besides the outpouring of points she contributed 8 assists and 8 rebounds. Cooks also had 8 rebounds.

The win improves the Cougars' record to 15-11 overall and 6-9 in the Pac-12, while the Huskies fall to 19-8 and 8-7.

WSU jumped to a 17-4 lead but couldn't maintain the pace and trailed 38-33 at halftime as Washington's Jazmine Davis fired up 17 points in the half.

The Cougars came out smoking at both ends of the court in the second half, turning the five-point halftime deficit into a an 11-point lead a little more than 7 minutes into the second stanza.

"It's a game of runs, and I thought the momentum had definitely shifted at halftime toward the purple. At halftime, we just talked about settling back down and get back to talking and getting our releases on defense, and offensively let's move the basketball," Cougar coach June Daugherty said on the post-game radio show. "We forced them out of the zone in the second half, and that was pivotal for us for the win."

Presley ended her night with 17 points. Galdeira finished with 23 points to lead the team, and Cooks contributed 16 total points on 7-of-14 shooting.

The Cougars turned 14 Husky turnovers into 20 points, and led led the battle of the boards 40-34.

"For us to be able to score as well as we did off of turnovers was a big key for us, so a lot of good things happening for us," Daugherty said.

The Cougars drained 3-pointers -- two straight by Awa -- on four of five possessions midway through the second half to stoke a 17-3 run.

Awa (pictured above) made three of her four shots from long range. She came into the game averaging five points per game.

"Dawnyelle played such a big role tonight. They were leaving her wide open, and she just started draining shots and started feeling it," Daugherty said.

The two teams play each other again Sunday at 1 p.m. in Pullman. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

  • WSU led the Huskies for about 32 of the 40 total minutes. The Cougars' largest lead was 22 with 6:16 in the second half.

  • The Cougars held a 12-6 advantage in second-chance points.

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