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WSU comes home to close out regular season

Cougars will look to avoid season sweep after losing to Golden Bears in first meeting

Then+senior+forward+Ivana+Kmetovska%2C+right%2C+fights+off+multiple+Cal+defenders+during+a+game+%0Aon+Jan.+29%2C+2017+at+Beasley+Coliseum.+WSU+won+the+game+84-79.+
Then senior forward Ivana Kmetovska, right, fights off multiple Cal defenders during a game 
on Jan. 29, 2017 at Beasley Coliseum. WSU won the game 84-79.

Then senior forward Ivana Kmetovska, right, fights off multiple Cal defenders during a game on Jan. 29, 2017 at Beasley Coliseum. WSU won the game 84-79.

JESSICA HARJA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

JESSICA HARJA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Then senior forward Ivana Kmetovska, right, fights off multiple Cal defenders during a game on Jan. 29, 2017 at Beasley Coliseum. WSU won the game 84-79.

AVERY COOPER, Evergreen reporter

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For one more weekend, WSU women’s basketball will try to finish the regular season on a high note with a pair of home games ahead of the Pac-12 tournament next week.

The Cougars fought hard against University of Utah and University of Colorado last week, but fell short on both occasions. Senior guard Pinelopi Pavlopoulou said they must improve in some areas if they want to finish the season strong with wins against University of California, Berkeley, on Friday and No. 16 Stanford University on Sunday.

“I thought that we fought in both games,” Pavlopoulou said. “We played good, but we didn’t end making a lot of our shots and that’s what cost us.”

Junior center Maria Kostourkova said the Cougars must play better as a unit to achieve the results they want.

“We just need to come together one more time and go to war one more time,” Kostourkova said.

The last time the Cougars and Golden Bears met, Cal came out on top 66-60. Cal junior forward Kristine Anigwe had a double-double with 30 points and 17 rebounds. Anigwe is fifth in rebounding and tied for seventh in scoring in the Pac-12.

“She knows how to use her body and push the defenders away so that she has the backside available for her for the lob,” Pavlopoulou said. “As a team, we do a great job defending the lob and plays like that.”

Kostourkova said the key to stopping Anigwe starts with the guards and limiting her effectiveness in the post.

“We just have to get in front of her and do everything we can to not let her get the ball,” Kostourkova said. “The only thing you can do when a post player gets the ball is make it hard as possible.”

In addition to Anigwe’s inside game, the Golden Bears have junior guard Asha Thomas, who is top 10 in the Pac-12 in three-pointers made per game.

Pavlopoulou said communication will be the key to balancing good inside and outside defense.

“Everybody needs to do their part and as a team we have to be one defensively,” Pavlopoulou said. “Of course, it takes all five on the court at that point. When you have good guards and good post players, you typically have to give something up. But with good communication we can eliminate those risks.”

Kostourkova said the Cougars need to play aggressively and take care of the ball to come away with a win Friday.

“I think they’re a very aggressive team,” she said. “I think they fight for every possession. I think we do that too, so it’s going to be a very interesting game.”

Pavlopoulou said good shot selection and staying true to themselves on defense will help the Cougars against Cal.

“Just keep playing our defense and stay solid without fouling, and hopefully we’ll take away more possessions from them,” Pavlopoulou said. “With a decent shooting percentage, it can put us in a great position to hopefully beat them.”

Kostourkova said the team will be fighting hard to close out the season with wins, especially for the seniors.

“They deserve us to fight and to win those two games,” she said. “So I’m sure that we’re all going to do the best we can.”

Pavlopoulou said it would mean a lot to finish her career strong.

“It would be great, to be honest. For me personally it would be even better and a sweet feeling ending my career here with a win at Beasley,” Pavlopoulou said. “Especially after hopefully beating these two teams.”

The Cougars will host the Golden Bears 7 p.m. Friday in Beasley Coliseum. The game can be viewed on the WSU Live Stream.

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WSU comes home to close out regular season