The Cougar women's basketball team defeated UC-Davis 71-62 Thursday, to advance to the Elite Eight of the Women's National Invitational Tournament. Unlike many of Washington State's wins this postseason, the Cougars controlled the game throughout and didn't need to make up a big deficit or stave off a last ditch comeback from their opponent.
After a back and forth five and a half minutes to open the game, Alexys Swedlund hit her second consecutive three to put WSU up 15-13. There wasn’t a single lead change from that point onward. The Cougars soon pushed their lead to double digits, and led by 13 at halftime.
UC-Davis did close the gap in the second half, but WSU always had a response. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, WSU's lead was cut to 51-47, but Swedlund and Pinelopi Pavlopoulou hit back-to-back threes to create a cushion.
It wasn't the Cougars shooting (35% from the field) that secured them the victory, but their defense and rebounding. WSU forced the Aggies into 19 turnovers and scored 18 points off them. The Cougars also won the rebounding battle, 49-40, and scored twice as many points in the paint.
Swedlund had another huge night, leading the Cougs with 20 points and nine rebounds. She also made four of her 10 attempts from beyond the arc and had two steals. Caila Hailey led WSU on the defensive end with four steals.
While their 15-19 record isn't too impressive, the Cougs are well respected by the Massey Ratings, a statistical ranking system. The Cougars are the no. 41 team in the country, per Massey, and the third highest ranked team left in the WNIT.
Next, WSU will travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes Sunday, at noon.
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