PINELOPI PAVLOPOULOU (WSU Photo)

Another heart-stopping road victory by WSU's scrappy women's hoops team serves notice that 2017-18 could be special

IN THE SPAN of their last four games — the latest a nail-biting overtime victory at Wyoming on Saturday in round two of the WNIT — the Washington State women’s basketball team has served notice.

The Cougs are going to be hellfire next season.

Despite losing three starters to injury this season — star freshman point guard Chanelle Molina, leading scorer Borislava Hristova and leading rebounder Louise Brown — they scraped and battled night in and night out.

Saturday’s 68-67 OT victory at Wyoming and Thursday’s dramatic comeback at BYU in the round one of the WNIT are merely the two most recent examples of the warrior mentality in June Daugherty's merry band.

Here’s why all this portends so well for 2017-18. All three of those injured starters will be back — as will all but one member of this battle-tested group that has just posted the first two post-season wins in school history. On the road, at altitude, no less.

These Cougs play with heart. Nothing is left on the court — the final 28 seconds Saturday against Wyoming a case in point. The Cowboys trailed by one and they had the ball. Yet they couldn’t get a shot off. All they managed was a desperation toss from the corner at the buzzer that fell far short. Wyoming scored just three points in OT and 8 in the fourth quarter. 

That’s because the Cougs were moving their feet and talking like it was the first quarter. They hustled and closed and denied.

"We gutted it out," said junior Caila Hailey, who scored 12 points, dished 6 assists and nabbed 8 rebounds.

Junior Pinelopi Pavlopoulou led WSU with a career-high 20 points, while adding 4 assists. Sophomore Alexys Swedlund and senior Ivana Kmetovska each added 10 points. Swedlund also posted 8 rebounds.

Pavlopoulou, the pride of Athens, Greece, hit a jumper with 25 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 64 and send matters to overtime. She then canned another at the start of OT to put the Cougars up for good. Two subsequent free throws by Cougar freshman Kayla Washington proved the ultimate margin of difference.

The victory improves the Cougs to 14-19 and secures them with a Sweet 16 date with the winner of Sunday’s Colorado State-UC Davis game. UPDATE: UC Davis won and they will be coming to Pullman on Thursday for a 7 pm tipoff with the Cougs.

HERE ARE POST-GAME INTERVIEWS WITH JUNE DAUGHERTY AND PLAYERS:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6PTIDwUXpM


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