CAILA HAILEY (WSU photo)

Washington State downs Iowa and moves on to WNIT Final Four; Daugherty offers special praise for her lone senior

THE ICE-WATER-in-their veins road warriors otherwise known as the Washington State women's basketball team did it again today, defeating Iowa's Hawkeyes in front of 5,000 Iowa City hostiles, 74-66, to advance to the Final Four of the WNIT. Coach June Daugherty said afterward that her team is playing selfless ball, focusing on one thing: surviving and advancing.

Next up for these surging Cougars is Georgia Tech on Wednesday (4 p.m. Pacific time) in Atlanta. The winner of that one will play either Michigan or Villanova in the WNIT title game.

"It's just so gratifying to see this young group do what they're doing ... they're playing for each other, with so much love," Daugherty told the WSU Radio Network.

"It's just so powerful right now. No one cares who is the leading scorer. Just survive and advance ..."

Daugherty had special praise for her lone senior, forward Ivana Kmetovska, who did it all, scoring 14 points, pulling down 6 rebounds, dishing 4 assists and playing tough defense against Iowa's physical post players.

Kmetovska can rest this summer before heading to Europe to play pro ball, Daugherty quipped. She said she told the Macedonia native during the game that she was the best front-line player on the court and to keeping bringing it.

The Cougars' entire front line did yeoman's work on Iowa's Megan Gustafason and Hannah Stewart. The Cougs contested everything and three of them fouled out: Nike McClure, Kayla Washington and Maria Kostourkova.

To call the win a team effort would be an understatement of towering proportion. Among the individual highlights:

  • Caila Hailey: Pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds, scored 10 points, dished 5 assists and nabbed 3 steals.

  • Pinelopi Pavloupoulu: Notched her first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

  • Alexys Swedlund: Scored a game-high 20 points and drew a foul late in the game that put the Cougs into the bonus with a 7-point lead late in the game. She subsequently drilled 7 free throws in the final 80 seconds.

Swedlund also etched her name into the WSU record book in the first half, tying -- and then surpassing -- Cougar great Tricia Lamb for most three-pointers in a single season. Here's the record-breaker, season trey No. 70, in living color ... https://twitter.com/WSUWomensHoops/status/846084457568202752

"We've gotten this far, we might as well go the whole way," Swedlund said after the game.

"Once we got our defense going, our shots got going," she said in reference to Iowa going on a 12-0 run in the first half before the Cougar D locked down.

The victory marked the Cougars' fourth in the WNIT and third on the road. They've now won six of their last seven games, the only setback coming to NCAA Final Four-bound Stanford. WSU is now 16-19 on the season.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS FROM WSU:

http://www.wsucougars.com/news/2017/3/26/womens-basketball-cougs-punch-t...


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