Women’s basketball looks for fourth win of season

WSU returns home hoping for third straight win after 1-4 start


JORDAN MAXWELL | Daily Evergreen File

WSU senior guard Caila Hailey goes up for the layup against The Master’s University in Beasley Coliseum on Nov. 1.

AVERY COOPER, Evergreen reporter

WSU women’s basketball (3-4) will host Idaho State University (5-1) Friday, after winning two of three games at the Gulf Coast Showcase last weekend. The Cougars finished fifth out of the eight teams at the tournament.

Redshirt sophomore forward Borislava Hristova averaged 15 points per game during the showcase.

“I feel like after the first game, we learned a lot of things that we didn’t do … we kind of had to find ourselves and [say] ‘Okay, there’s nothing to lose,’ ” Hristova said. “I feel like we just relaxed and started playing our game for those two games.”

Head Coach June Daugherty talked about Hristova and her development so far this season.

“I think that she’s really focusing on being our trigger and outlet and being able to push the ball down the floor and get us something easy in transition,” Daugherty said. “Defensively, she’s getting better each day. I think that she’s taken it to heart that she needs to play both sides of the ball with intensity.”

In the two wins, junior guard Alexys Swedlund made eight of her 20 three-point attempts and averaged 11.6 points per game throughout the tournament.

“Alexys is a really good player, especially when she’s hot,” Hristova said. “She really helped us in our second game against East Tennessee, and when she gets hot she brings a lot to this team.”

Daugherty was impressed with how Swedlund played in the tournament as well.

“I thought [Swedlund] ran the lane really well to give herself opportunity to get open looks,” Daugherty said. “It’s great to see that from her.”

Idaho State has shot 47.6 percent from three-point range, while allowing opponents to shoot 25.9 percent from behind the three-point arc. WSU is averaging over 20 three-point attempts per game.

Daugherty said the Cougars will try to balance an inside-the-paint game with an outside one, to counteract a good defensive three-point shooting team, but that they have to establish themselves inside the paint first in order to do so.

“I think for that to happen, we’ve got to make sure that we’re establishing ourselves down low,” Daugherty said. “If it’s crowded down there, we have to be willing to kick the ball out and find our open teammates.”

Daugherty said Idaho State is a road-tested team with wins against No. 25 University of Washington and University of California, Irvine.

“I think the thing about them is that they’re road warriors,” Daugherty said. “They are third in the country in field goal percentage from three [point-line], and it’s not just one person. There are several people who shoot the basketball very well. They’re going to test us defensively.”

Hristova said the team is prepared for Idaho State’s outside shooting.

“They’re really good three-point shooters, so we’re going to try and take that away, because that is most of their game,” Hristova said.

Leading the Bengals in three-point scoring is redshirt senior guard Brooke Blair. Fifty-four of her 95 points have come from three-point shots and she leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.8 points per game.

“You have to know where she’s at, at all times,” Daugherty said.

WSU’s two wins in the Gulf Coast Showcase were the first time the Cougars have won back-to-back games this season. Daugherty said it will be important to continue the process of playing team basketball against Idaho State.

“The biggest thing that we are focusing on is the process. If we win three in a row, that’s great,” Daugherty said. “We have to do it by playing better basketball and part of that is just defensively making sure that we’re all in sync. It’s real important that we stay team first and share the basketball as much as possible.”

Hristova said it would be a big boost for the team to beat the Bengals on their home court.

“Our goal is to be undefeated at home,” Hristova said. “I feel like we’re more relaxed at home, and hopefully that will help us to get the W.”

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Beasley Coliseum. The game can also be seen on the WSU Live Stream.