From Pullman- Washington State's women's basketball team won its 15th game in a blowout, defeating Oregon, 108-88. This victory guarantees the Cougars a .500 regular season finish, as Washington State used a 10-0 run midway through the second half to take the lead for good.
WSU is now 15-13 (9-7 Pac-12) this season.
Midway through the second half, the Ducks had a two-point lead. Dawnyelle Awa grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a lay-up with 10 minutes left. WSU scored eight more points in just over a minute, and the Cougar run ended when Drea Toler made a free throw.
WSU went on that 10-0 run thanks to an aggressive defense that forced several turnovers, leading to points. Once the Cougar lead reached 11 points, the Ducks ran a press defense, which WSU broke with ease.
"(We) did a great job of breaking the press, and not just breaking but attacking the press for easy lay-ups," WSU coach June Daugherty said.
Unlike the loss to OSU on Friday, Washington State used a balanced attack to blowout the Ducks – Tia Presley (32 points), Lia Galdeira (27 points), Mariah Cooks (13 points), and Shalie Dheensaw (12 points) led the Cougs. After the game, Daugherty singled out the play of Awa as a major part of the team's production on Sunday.
"Dawny just distributed the ball so well you know, into lay-ups, for Lia and Tia in particular," she said.
Another issue that has plagued WSU is rebounding, but WSU won the rebounding battle, 48-44.
"The other key was rebounding, with Alleyne out there. Jillian [Alleyne] is such a fantastic player," Daugherty said. "We really talked a lot to our guards about (it) -- that they had to get involved with the rebounding, offensively and defensively, for us to get the W today."
This win guarantees them their first .500 regular season since 1995-96 and their first .500 finish in conference play since 1994-95. After the game, I asked Presley what it felt like to be part of the first .500 squad in 19 years.
"Oh, I wasn't even aware," she said. "I'm so glad to be part of something like that. We are doing big things and I'm just happy to be a part of a team that is doing big things."
I asked Daugherty the same question:
"Well you know we aren't done yet, we certainly aren't done yet," she said. "You know, what amazes me about this year is that this is the number one RPI conference in America, the Pac-12, and we are sitting right in there. And we've beaten a lot of people that we haven't beaten in the past; so it makes you really proud as a coaching staff. It's not like we are doing this in a league that isn't in the top..ehhh..conversation or how many teams are going to get into the NCAAs and NIT.
"It makes you proud. Most importantly, it makes you proud of the kids that have come into the program and believed in it. Especially our three seniors. I wish you guys knew how hard these guys have worked. Because when they came here people were like; ' Why are you going there? They don't win. You know, they haven't been to the NCAAs..since I don' t know...'92.'
"They believed and made a difference. Everyday they've been great leaders, they've been great leaders, and they've brought these young kids along. I couldn't be prouder, could not be prouder."
Next weekend the Cougars travel to the Bay Area to take on Stanford and Cal.