Abrupt end for WSU women at Pacific-12 Conference tournament
LOS ANGELES – Washington State’s successful run at the Pacific-12 Conference women’s basketball tournament came to a crash landing Friday, but the Cougars gained newfound respect.
Not only did they record WSU’s first two wins in the 11-year history of the tournament, but the public address announcer – unlike the night before – did not make a single reference to the “Washington Cougars.”
“The Cougs are here; we’re back in women’s basketball,” coach June Daugherty said after second-seeded California downed No. 11 seed WSU, 64-49, in a nationally televised semifinal at Staples Center.
The Cougars finished 13-20, the best record in Daugherty’s five years at WSU. The Cougars have endured 16 consecutive losing seasons, but that skid might have ended this year if not for injuries to three starters.
WSU finished league play in a 1-8 slump, then knocked off sixth seed Oregon State and third seed USC at the tournament. WSU was 0-10 at Pac-10 tournaments before the conference expanded this season.
“It was an exciting week,” Daugherty said. “We learned a lot about ourselves, and we’re just going to build on this. But this was a great statement about Washington State basketball and where we’re at.”
California, one of the nation’s top rebounding teams, combined superior size with great tenacity to crush the Cougars 59-25 on the glass. That, and a 48-27 percent advantage in field-goal shooting, helped the Bears overcome a whopping 25 turnovers (14 more than WSU).
“They’re very athletic and can jump really high, so it was tough,” said forward Sage Romberg, who combined with WSU’s other front-line starters (Elma’s Brandi Thomas and Moses Lake’s Carly Noyes) for just four rebounds.
WSU quickly fell behind 8-0, but forged a 26-26 tie at the half. The Cougars nursed small leads the first eight minutes of the second half before fading.
“I thought with about eight minutes to go, we kind of ran out of gas a little bit,” Daugherty said. “Three games in three days (California had a bye Wednesday).
“That’s not anything against Cal. They have a tremendous front line. They just keep coming at you with their five different post players.”
Romberg led the Cougars with 11 points, one more than April Cook. No WSU player had more than three rebounds.
Daugherty said Jazmine Perkins and April Cook have been invited to the upcoming WNBA scouting combine, and Rosie Adzasu has been invited to try out for Angola’s Olympic team.
Freshman point guard Brittany Boyd led four Bears (24-8) in double figures with 14 points. She also had a game-high nine assists to go with 10 rebounds. Teammate Gennifer Brandon, whose father Greg was a 1984 draft pick of the Sonics, added 13 points and 15 rebounds.
“She’s an absolute monster on the glass,” California coach Lindsey Gottlieb said.