Washington State’s bubble burst at the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament with a 67-48 quarterfinal defeat against ninth-ranked Arizona State on Friday afternoon at KeyArena. But the Cougars (17-14) still hope to nab a postseason berth.
Washington State’s bubble burst at the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament with a 67-48 quarterfinal defeat against ninth-ranked Arizona State on Friday afternoon at KeyArena.
There is, however, some air left in the Cougars’ postseason tires.
ESPN’s latest projections have the Cougars (17-14) as one of the “last four” teams out of the NCAA tournament, meaning WSU should get strong consideration by the NCAA committee. Coach June Daugherty is hopeful the Cougars will be in the NCAA field for the first time since 1991.
Pac-12 women’s tournament
All games at KeyArena
Saturday: No. 2 Arizona State vs. No. 3 Stanford, 6 p.m.; No. 9 Colorado vs. No. 4 California, 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
“You always have a chance,” she said. “Just because of the schedule that we played and the success we had in preseason. … I thought we improved greatly throughout the year. Every week we got better.”
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The Cougars knocked off one top-10 team, Maryland, in November, and on Friday hung tough for a half with another top-10 team.
Arizona State (27-4), boasting the Pac-12’s top-ranked defense, held the Cougars to 16 points in the first half, the lowest scoring half of the season for WSU.
Five minutes in, and this was the ominous situation for the Cougars: zero points, seven missed shots, three turnovers and its star player writhing on the KeyArena floor holding her left knee. Lia Galdeira, who scored a career-high 34 points in WSU’s opening-round victory over Oregon on Thursday, hopped on one foot up the tunnel with a team trainer.
Galdeira, however, returned to the floor less than four minutes later, her knee wrapped in athletic tape. The Cougars then scrapped their way back into the game.
WSU finally scored its first points at the 12:12 mark on a Tia Presley steal and layup. The Cougars’ aggressive defense had kept them close, and WSU rallied from its 7-0 deficit to pull within 13-12 on another Presley layup.
The Cougars finished the first half 3 for 13 from the free-throw line and 1 for 7 on three-point attempts — and yet somehow trailed by just three points, 19-16. It helped that Arizona State shot just 27.6 percent(8 for 29).
“We felt pretty good going into the half only being down (three),” Daugherty said.
Early in the second half, the Cougars were hit with another significant blow when Presley landed awkwardly on a drive, rolling her left ankle. She needed assistance to get off the court. Much like Galdeira, Presley re-entered a few minutes later, and had 16 points and a career-high seven steals.
Galdeira had 12 points on 4-for-17 shooting.
“Gutsy performance by Lia and Tia to come back out and play,” Daugherty said. “They were obviously in a lot of pain. They weren’t themselves. They weren’t able to be as explosive as they usually are.”
Arizona State pulled away in the second half by getting the ball inside to its post players for easy layups and short jumpers. The Sun Devils shot 70.8 percent (17 of 24) in the second half.
Arizona State scored 38 of its 48 points in the paint and outrebounded the Cougars, 41-23.
“They are as tenacious as advertised,” Daugherty said of the Sun Devils, who will play Stanford in the first semifinal Saturday night.
Colorado stunstop-seeded OSU
Lexy Kresl scored 19 points, Jamee Swan picked up 11 of her 18 in the second half, and Colorado stunned No. 8 Oregon State 68-65 in the quarterfinals.
Colorado (15-16) watched the regular-season champion Beavers erase a seven-point deficit and take a 60-59 lead with 4:21 remaining on Ruth Hamblin’s three-point play.
But the Buffaloes scored the next eight points and held Oregon State scoreless for more than four minutes.
Stanford 67, UCLA 62
Amber Orrange scored 18 points and No. 19 Stanford (22-9) held off UCLA’s late rally in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals.
Jordin Canada led the sixth-seeded Bruins (13-18) with 15 points.