‘Big step in the right direction’ for Cougars

Out-defending ISU in multiple categories helped WSU win its third straight contest


JORDAN MAXWELL | The Daily Evergreen

WSU junior guard Alexys Swedlund goes for a three-pointer against Idaho State University at Beasley Coliseum on Friday.

JACOB MOORE, Former Evergreen sports editor

WSU women’s basketball evened its regular season record with a victory over Idaho State University on Friday night. The Bengals entered the contest averaging over 76 points per game, but were held to a season-low 55 points to the Cougars’ 72 in Beasley Coliseum.

“Big step in the right direction defensively as a team,” Cougar Head Coach June Daugherty said after the game.

An evenly-matched first quarter began with ISU (5-2) grabbing the tipoff. WSU junior center Maria Kostourkova scored the first points for the Cougars (4-4), but her team trailed by a couple points until redshirt sophomore forward Borislava “Bobby” Hristova was fouled. She made both free throws to tie the game early.

WSU fell behind on a couple different occasions, but ultimately came back to end the first quarter in a 15-15 tie.

Cougar basketball was again down in the second period, but the team scored nine unanswered points to take a 31-29 lead just before halftime. WSU redshirt junior forward Nike McClure didn’t take a shot toward the basket in the first period, but she made both field goals attempted in the second quarter.

Halftime came shortly after the Cougars took the lead, and they would extend it to 35-30 before the break.

ISU was held to nine points from behind the three-point line in the first half. Comparatively, WSU had 12 points from that same distance while out-rebounding, out-stealing and out-blocking the Bengals.

“This is a team that’s third in the country in three-point field goal percentage,” Daugherty said. “Overall, I was really pleased with the way we defended the three-point line.”

Daugherty called a timeout less than a minute into the second half after two turnovers and a foul by Cougar athletes. It took nearly three minutes for WSU to score its first points of the third period while it took ISU over four minutes to score its first field goal of the half.

Cougar redshirt junior forward Louise Brown, who finished the game with a double-double, topped off a seven-point run in the third quarter with a three-pointer. By this point, WSU held a 48-37 lead.

Brown suffered a season-ending foot injury almost exactly one year ago. She currently leads the team in three-point percentage, free throw percentage, offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds.

“My foot feels great,” she said. “Each game, I’m hoping to get just a little bit better.”

The Cougars had three strings of five or more unanswered points in the final quarter to put 24 points on the board. ISU had half that in the final 10 minutes. As a result, WSU won its third consecutive game.

“I think when we regrouped, especially these last two or three games, a huge goal for us is to keep teams under 60 [points] and we’ll give ourselves a great chance of winning the game,” Brown said. “And these last two games, that’s what we have done.”