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The Roundup: Women's basketball starts season with pair of wins

It's a hot start for Cougar basketball, and the men's cross country team is peaking at the right time

Ivana Kmetovska scored 8 points in the Cougs' season-opening win.
Ivana Kmetovska scored 8 points in the Cougs' season-opening win.
WSU Athletic Communications

The WSU women's basketball team started its season with home wins over UC Santa Barbara and Hampton this past week. The Cougs won both games fairly comfortably and were led by a promising freshman.

Saturday, they started their season with 61-44 win over UCSB where freshman forward Borislava Hristova scored 16 points in her debut on 6-of-9 shooting. No other starter for the Cougs scored more than five points, and the second highest scorer was junior forward Ivana Kmetovska who had 8 points.

WSU saw five players register at least two steals and finished with 15 as a team. The Cougs won the defensive battle and limited the Gauchos to a stellar 0.69 points per possession. They also outrebounded UCSB by 9.

Against Hampton, it was more of the same as WSU's offense was lead again by Hristova and her 20 points. Fellow freshman Alexys Swedlund showed her confidence when ti comes to shooting the rock in both games so far, albeit inefficiently. She has shot 5-of-21 and 4-of-16 so far on the young season. While it's good to see some confidence from the young gunner, head coach June Daugherty will have to reign in Swedlund's usage if they want to continue to win against higher quality opponents.

The Cougs travel to Hawaii this week to participate in the Rainbow Wahine Classic. They will play Nevada on Friday and against Hawaii on Sunday.

The men's cross country team improved off its finish at the Pac-12 Championships in October to run its way to a fourth place finish at the NCAA West Regional race this weekend and secure a spot at the NCAA Championships. Junior John Whelan finished in second place with a fellow Coug, sophomore Michael Williams, right behind him in third. The only runner to finish ahead of the Pullman residents was reigning NCAA individual champ Edward Cheserek of Oregon.

The 17th ranked Washington Huskies won the regional with no. 4 Stanford and no. 3 Oregon following close behind. It was a great performance by WSU, which placed ahead of 26 other teams, including two that had beaten them a month before at the conference meet in Colfax. Their performance impressed the NCAA selection committee so much that they awarded the Cougs with an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.

With that bid, WSU travels to Louisville, Kentucky, this week to take on the best in the country. The last time they made the field was in 2011, when the Cougs finished 21st. The race will start at 10 a.m. from Tom Sawyer park.

The women's soccer team's season ended in heart-breaking fashion, yet again, on Saturday. In case you missed it, here is my game story. The team loses three big contributors to graduation, but brings back a lot of experience and skill so they will look to contend in the Pac-12 again next season.

The volleyball team ended its losing streak this weekend as the Cougs picked up a 25-23, 25-16, 25-21 win against Cal on Friday. Freshman McKenna Woodford led the way 14 kills and a blistering .520 hitting percentage. The Cougs then fell Sunday to the highly ranked Stanford Cardinal on Senior Day.

Woodford was named the Pac-12 freshman of the week for her play against the Bay Area schools. The Cougs will take to the road and play Oregon and Oregon St. this weekend, and both games will be available on the Pac-12 Network.