Cougars stumble in closing seconds against Utah

Women’s basketball was outscored by nine points in final quarter


Jorge Rodriguez | The Daily Evergreen

WSU redshirt sophomore forward Boruslava Hristova dribbles the ball down the court against Utah on Sunday at Beasley Coliseum.

AVERY COOPER, Evergreen reporter

WSU women’s basketball lost 81-79 to University of Utah in the closing seconds of Sunday’s game.

At seven seconds remaining, the game was tied. Utah senior forward Emily Potter missed a jump shot and Clark grabbed the rebound, missing a lay-up of her own. Clark then picked up a second offensive rebound in as many opportunities and was fouled by WSU redshirt junior forward Nike McClure.

With the teams tied at 79-79, Utes senior wing Tilar Clark drew a foul that sent her to the free-throw line for two shots, with a half a second left on the clock. Clark made both attempts to win the game.

“Discipline is the word of the afternoon,” McClure said. “I think that we need to be more disciplined to complete plays when it comes down to the wire like that.”

Head Coach June Daugherty echoed McClure and said her team needs to finish better.

“It’s tough because seven seconds to go, we forced a tough shot,” she said. “Our defense was stellar that way, but we didn’t finish the play. By that I mean we didn’t go and box out, not once, but twice. Then we end up getting a foul call and that’s the ballgame.”

Redshirt sophomore forward Borislava Hristova scored a game-high 29 points for the Cougars (8-8, 1-3). Junior guard Alexys Swedlund had 14 points, including three of her five three-point attempts.

Daugherty said the play of both those players was a highlight on a day when the team fell just short of a win.

“Excited for [Hristova], her shot selection was good, and she’s going to continue to draw a lot of attention,” Daugherty said. “I thought [Swedlund] played good today as well.”

Leading the way for the Utes (12-3, 3-1) was junior wing Daneesha Provo with 22 points. The production gave Provo back-to-back 20-point games and five games in a row scoring in double-digits.

Daugherty said Provo was a difficult player for her team to defend all game.

“She’s quick and she rebounds,” Daugherty said. “She has a great euro-step. A really good player.”

Prior to the win, Utah was third in the Pac-12 in free-throw percentage. The Utes converted 22 of their 24 free-throw opportunities.

“We allowed too much penetration and fouling on our part against Utah and sent them to the line,” Daugherty said. “As you guys can tell, [Utah] missed two free-throws all night. They’re a very good free-throw-shooting team.”

WSU led the game for nearly 35 minutes. However, the Cougars were outscored 21-12 in the fourth quarter. Hristova said the Utes played differently in the final quarter than the rest of the game.

“I feel like they started being more aggressive on offense,” Hristova said. “I feel like that gave them the energy to play aggressively on defense as well.”

Daugherty noticed a significant difference in the Utes offense down the stretch.

“Just putting their head down and driving and getting to the free-throw line — it was that simple,” Daugherty said. “Our rotations were late and we didn’t get squared up enough to force a charge or block.”

Daugherty said that moving forward, the team will focus on rebounding. Heading into this game, the Cougars were last in the Pac-12 in defensive rebounding percentage, while Utah was first. Utah outrebounded WSU 50-32.

WSU hopes to bounce back 6 p.m Friday when they face Stanford University inside Maples Pavilion.