PULLMAN — Washington’s winning streak against Washington State in women’s basketball has stretched so long, there isn’t a Cougar on coach June Daugherty’s roster old enough to remember the last time WSU won.
Washington State has proved it can beat ranked teams. It has had seasoned rosters that faced UW teams hampered by injuries. And still, there’s one constant since Feb. 25, 1995. It hasn’t mattered against the Huskies, who have beaten WSU 36 straight times.
But the Cougars will get two chances this week to change that. The teams play Tuesday at Beasley Coliseum, then UW (8-5, 1-1 Pac-12) hosts WSU (7-6, 2-0) on Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“Our focus is on us. That’s enough for a player and that’s enough for a coach,” Daugherty said. “That’s where our head is at.”
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WSU enters the cross-state rivalry on an uptick after sweeping the desert schools, including an 85-78 win against then-No. 24 Arizona State to open conference play. UW simply wants to forget its 78-60 loss to ASU on Sunday.
The Huskies were outworked 15-6 on the offensive rebounds and 8-2 in second-chance points. UW trailed by as many as 25 points and its bench was outscored 45-10.
“We could not get back in the game,” Washington senior guard Mercedes Wetmore said. “But there’s nothing we really need to talk about. It’s just changing our mindset, coming together and doing what we’ve been practicing all season.”
Part of UW’s problem was depth. First-year coach Mike Neighbors returned freshmen posts Chantel Osahor (stress fracture) and Katie Collier (hamstring) to the rotation but had to play sophomore Talia Walton (knees) limited minutes.
Walton, the team’s third-leading scorer, played 25 minutes in the loss to ASU and finished with six points and eight rebounds. She’s averaging 12.3 points and 9.5 boards this season.
“We have to be aware of her knees,” Neighbors said. “She’s a kid that’s going to have to play with a lot of pain the rest of her life.”
Post play could be the difference in the game. Collier said her hamstring is nearly 100 percent and Osahor is almost certain she can play through the conference season.
The pair will be needed in a reserve role to help defend WSU, whose frontcourt includes Shalie Dheensaw. The 6-foot-4 junior is averaging 7.2 rebounds in her first season as a full-time starter.
The matchup features four of the top-10 scorers in the conference.
UW guard Kelsey Plum, who was named Pac-12 freshman of the week Monday, averages 18.5 points while junior Jazmine Davis averages 18.4 to form the second highest-scoring backcourt in the conference.
WSU junior Tia Presley (19.7 points) is fourth in the conference in scoring while sophomore Lia Galdeira (18.4) is seventh.
“Lia played a brilliant game against ASU,” said Daugherty of Galdeira’s 27 points and 10 for 12 free-throw shooting. “One of the things she’s trying to do is get better spacing on the floor. And she’s learning to trust all of her frontline players.”
Washington trusts its versatility. It’s a consistent toughness UW wants to see from each other on Tuesday to keep a streak that’s been around since they were very young.
“It’s all about mental toughness,” Collier said.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com. On Twitter @JaydaEvans.