Washington State junior guard Lia Galdeira scored a career-high 34 points to rescue the seventh-seeded Cougars in a 66-64 victory over 10th-seeded Oregon in the opening game of the Pac-12 Conference women’s basketball tournament at KeyArena on Thursday.
There is something about KeyArena that seems to bring out the best in Lia Galdeira.
The Washington State junior guard scored a career-high 34 points to rescue the seventh-seeded Cougars in a 66-64 victory over 10th-seeded Oregon in the opening game of the Pac-12 Conference women’s basketball tournament Thursday.
“Lia put on the Superwoman cape again and said, ‘Let me take it from here,’ ” WSU coach June Daugherty said.
Pac-12 women’s tournament
All games at KeyArena
Friday: No. 2 Arizona State vs. No. 7 WSU, 11:30 a.m.; No. 3 Stanford vs. No. 6 UCLA, 2 p.m.; No. 1 Oregon State vs. No. 9 Colorado; No. 4 California vs. No. 5 Washington, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday: Semifinal, 6 p.m.; semifinal, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday: Championship game, 6 p.m.
TV: All games on Pac-12 Networks, except championship game, which will be on ESPN
Galdeira, an all-Pac-12 selection, scored a tournament-record 75 points in three games last year at Key-Arena to help the Cougars advance to the semifinals. She was even better this time while leading the Cougars (17-13) back from a nine-point first-half deficit.
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“I just took what the defense gave me,” Galdeira said.
It was, however, a rare miss by Galdeira, on the front end of a one-and-one with 5.6 seconds left, that kept the door open for Oregon. The Ducks, trailing by two and without a timeout, raced up court, and Drea Toler made a short pass to teammate Lexi Petersen in front of the Oregon bench.
Petersen’s three-pointer banked in — but the shot was released from her hands a moment after the final buzzer sounded. Officials immediately waved off the basket and the Cougars raced to midcourt to celebrate.
The split-second missed opportunity was indicative of how close the WSU-Oregon games have been the past year. They split their two regular-season matchups this year by a combined four points, each team winning on the road.
A year ago, on the same court in the same round of the conference tournament, Washington State outlasted Oregon 107-100 in the highest-scoring game in the tournament’s history. The Cougars won that day despite a monster 28-point, 21-rebound performance from Oregon’s star post, Jillian Alleyne.
Thursday, the Cougars were determined to play Alleyne with an aggressive zone defense that limited her to just four shot attempts in the first half.
And yet, Alleyne made all four of those shots and Oregon shot 64 percent in the first half to build a 38-33 halftime lead. It would’ve been worse if not for WSU’s Louise Brown’s three-pointer just before the halftime buzzer.
Alleyne finished with 18 points (on 8-for-11 shooting) and 18 rebounds. It was her 28th double-double of the season, most in the nation.
It was Galdeira who shined in the most tense moments, however. She scored 12 of her 34 points in the final 10 minutes, including a three-pointer with 9:48 left that broke a 48-48 tie and gave the Cougs the lead for good.
Galdeira, wearing jersey No. 23 to honor injured teammate Shalie Dheensaw, was 14 of 24 from the field and 6 of 10 on three-pointers with six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Tia Presley and Mariah Cooks added 10 points each for the Cougars, who play second-seeded Arizona State in the first quarterfinal game at 11:30 a.m. Friday.
The Ducks ended their first season under coach Kelly Graves with a 13-17 record.
UCLA 80, Arizona 62
Nirra Fields scored 21 points on 10-for-16 shooting and sixth-seeded UCLA beat 11th-seeded Arizona in the opening round.
Jordin Canada and Monique Billings added 10 points apiece for the Bruins (13-17), who advance to a quarterfinals matchup Friday with No. 3 seed and 19th-ranked Stanford. Fields scored all the points in a 7-1 run that put the Bruins up 58-42 with 9:18 left. Arizona (10-20) got no closer than 11 points from there.
Colorado 75, USC 63
Haley Smith scored 16, and Jamee Swan added 15 and four blocked shots to help the No. 9-seed Buffaloes (14-16).
Lexy Kresl had 12 points and seven assists and Lauren Huggins scored 11 for Colorado.
Brianna Barrett led No. 8 seed USC (15-15) with 18 points.