Washington State center Shalie Dheensaw wrapped her arm around guard Lia Galdeira and held tight as they exited the KeyArena court on Saturday.
Galdeira, dismissing an injured wrist on her non-shooting left hand, inspired a ferocious offensive rally in the final 10 minutes of WSU’s matchup against Oregon State in the Pac-12 tournament semifinal. But the only thing to come from the effort was a tournament record in individual points scored.
WSU lost 70-60 to the third-seeded Beavers (23-9), who advance to the Pac-12 championship game for the first time in program history. Oregon State plays No. 5 seed USC, which upset top-seeded Stanford in the earlier semifinal.
“(Lia) gets lost sometimes in her mistakes sometimes,” Dheensaw said. Galdeira suffered the injury on a layup attempt against OSU center Ruth Hamblin, a 6-foot-6 Canadian.
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Galdeira, 5-11, leapt high in an attempt to get the ball over Hamblin’s outstretched arms. Hamblin blocked the shot, the force sending Galdeira to the court. She winced and held her left hand. WSU coach June Daugherty said Galdeira didn’t want to leave the game.
Daugherty took her star out anyway, but she later returned and finished with 16 points in 26 minutes on 7-for-20 shooting. That gave Galdeira, a sophomore, 75 points in the tournament and she passed the 71 points by Stanford forwards Nneka Ogwumike (2012) and Nicole Powell (2002).
“I just reminded Lia, like everyone else will, that’s she’s amazing and she’s hard to guard,” Dheensaw said of the conversation. “When she sees that, she’ll be unstoppable.”
Daugherty expects to have Galdeira’s wrist examined this weekend.
Neither USC nor OSU has ever won the tournament title since the event was created in 2002.
Those two teams, along with Washington State, were picked to finish in the bottom half of the conference in preseason coaches and media polls. WSU guard Tia Presley called it a “slap in the face” that her team was picked ninth by coaches.
“You picture (Stanford) being there,” said OSU coach Scott Rueck, whose team is on an 11-game win streak. “But no, we’re happy to be playing anybody in that game.”
With Stanford out, the Cougars saw a realistic chance to win the Pac-12’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament — a would-be first since 1991. But they first had to defeat No. 3 seed Oregon State in the semifinals.
WSU encountered a logistical problem, however. It couldn’t shoot.
Washington State trailed 33-20 in the opening half, shooting 8 of 30 from the field. A stark turnaround from the 198 points the Cougars totaled in wins against Oregon and Cal to advance to the semifinal game.
WSU (17-16) outscored OSU 40-37 in the second half, but shot 32.5 percent from the field overall. Beavers guard Sydney Wiese had 20 points while Hamblin finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks.