Chanelle Molina suffered a torn ACL last Friday, and now the Cougars have lost three starters and are down to nine players

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Washington State (8-10 overall, 3-4 Pac-12) has lost freshman guard Chanelle Molina for the season to a torn ACL, the Cougars’ women’s basketball team announced Tuesday afternoon, days before it faces No. 8 UW this Sunday in Pullman.

Molina tore her ACL in the Cougars’ defeat to No. 18 Arizona State last Friday, just two days after earning Women’s National Freshman Player of the Week honors from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Molina was also twice named Pac-12 freshman player of the week this season.

The 5-foot-9 guard from Kailua Kona, Hawaii went into last Friday’s game fresh off a 33-point performance in WSU’s upset win over No. 7 UCLA, but went down in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. Medical tests revealed Tuesday that Molina, who has averaged 12.8 points per game this season, suffered a torn ACL.

Molina wasn’t the only Cougar to get knocked out of the game against Arizona State.

Freshman Cameron Fernandez gave the team a scare in the dying seconds of the first quarter when she took a charge and fell to the floor, slamming the back of her head into the hardwood.

“As she fell, the other athlete from Arizona State fell on top of her,” WSU coach June Daugherty said. “She got hit twice – in the back of the head and from the front. She was in and out of consciousness on the floor and transported in a neck brace to the hospital.”

Fernandez has been diagnosed with a concussion and is out indefinitely, the Cougars announced Tuesday.

Between the injuries suffered by Fernandez and Molina last Friday – which Daugherty termed a “Friday the 13th that was the worst day of our lives” – and the foot injuries suffered by Borislava “Bobi” Hristova and Louise Brown in December, WSU has now lost three starters and is down to nine players on the roster.

Brown broke her foot on Dec. 4, and coincidentally, Hristova suffered the same injury four days later. Both as listed as “out indefinitely.”

“They are both still in boots,” Daugherty said. “And Bobi is on crutches. Right now it doesn’t look good for any of them to come back this year, but when you have those types of injuries, sometimes the body heals faster, sometimes it heals slower. You just don’t know.”

The slew of injuries has put a damper on what once appeared to be a promising season for the WSU women. The Cougars finished their non-conference slate with a 5-6 record that included close losses against No. 5 Maryland and No. 18 Kentucky.

They opened Pac-12 play with consecutive losses to No. 9 Washington and No. 15 Oregon State, but thereafter, appeared to have found some momentum as they strung together three-straight wins against Oregon, No. 7 UCLA and USC.

Last week’s trip to the desert took the wind out of their sails, but Daugherty said she’s confident that her team will adapt and press on.

“I’ve never seen anything like this – to lose three starters in one season,” Daugherty said. “I really love how our team is playing and continuing to compete. In the long run, these young kids will really benefit from the majority of the playing time they’re playing right now. And it shows how well we’ve recruited in the program. They’re the future of Washington State.”

With Molina out, Pinelopi Pavlopoulou will take on a bigger workload at the guard position. Pavlopoulou started in Molina’s place in WSU’s 56-55 defeat to Arizona on Sunday and she finished tied with Kayla Washington as the Cougars’ second leading scorer, with 12 points.

Senior Caila Hailey led WSU against the Wildcats, with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting.