The Washington State women’s basketball team (17-15, 11-9 Pac-12) will face Oregon State (22-9, 14-5 Pac-12) in the Pac-12 Tournament semi-finals on Saturday night. The game is a pivotal one for the WSU with a win needed if the Cougars are going to have a chance to sneak into the NCAA Tournament.
OSU will enter the game riding a 10-game winning streak. That streak includes a 67-53 win against WSU in Pullman. The semi-final matchup will be a battle of contrasting styles. The Cougars' success in the tournament thus far has come offensively. While WSU will attempt to get out and run, the Beavers will slow the pace, limiting possessions and turning the game into a slugfest.
In the Cougar wins against Oregon and Cal earlier in the tournament, WSU stretched the defense with solid perimeter shooting. The outside attack helped open up lanes for the guards – Tia Presley, Lia Galdeira, and Dawnyelle Awa – to drive the lane. The play of the guards -- especially Galdeira and Presley -- is the primary reason that the Cougs scored 198 points in the first two games of the tournament.
The Beavers’ pack defense rarely allows for lanes to open in the paint. Washington State struggled to adapt to OSU’s defense in the first two match-ups, as the Beavers limited the Cougars to 55 points per game. It wasn't just the slower pace giving the Cougars issues either. WSU shot just 31.5 percent from the floor against OSU and 26.7 percent from three. Both numbers are well below the season averages of 40.3 percent from the field and 33.2 percent from deep.
The Cougs are likely going to need their hot perimeter shooting to continue tonight if they are going to beat the Beavers and advance to the Pac-12 Championship game for the first time in program history. That means that Galdeira and Presley should take more three-point shots against OSU – the dynamic duo only took nine shots from beyond the arc against Cal.
Defensively, the Cougs are going to need junior Shalie Dheensaw to limit the number of rebounds and second chances that Oregon State’s sophomore forward Ruth Hamblin gets. The battle in the post between the 6-foot-4 Dheensaw and the 6-foot-6 Hamblin is going to be one of the key match-ups. Hamblin is averaging 8.6 rebounds per game, good for eighth in the Pac-12.
Galdeira and Presley have the chance to make some history tonight. Galdeira scored 59 points during the first two rounds and is 12 points away from breaking Nnemkadi Ogwumike's record for the most points scored in a single Pac-12 tournament. Presley is 22 points away from joining Galdeira and Sage Romberg in the 1,000 point club.
Tipoff: 8:30 p.m. PT
Location: Key Arena
TV: Pac-12 Networks
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