Cougar women led by dynamic scoring duo


Sophomore guard Dawnyelle Awa goes for a layup during a game against the California Golden Bears in Beasley Coliseum, Sunday, Feb. 9.

Fresh off an explosive victory against Oregon Sunday, the WSU women’s basketball team is high-spirited thanks in part to the dual threat of Tia Presley and Lia Galdeira.

The pair combined for 59 points against the Ducks and will go down as one of WSU’s all-time best scoring tandems.

“When they’re scoring like they’ve been, it takes a lot of pressure off our defense and gives us some room to get separation to close games out,” Head Coach June Daugherty said in her weekly press conference Tuesday.

Daugherty pointed to the resiliency of the two players and how they’ve matured and improved following some tough injuries early on in their careers.

This is the first full season Presley has been able to play as she has been sidelined with injuries in both her freshman and sophomore at WSU. Daugherty said they have impressed with the way she’s been able to recover from those injuries and play at a high level.

“She gets into a focus on the floor where she gets into the zone and we want to get her the ball because great things are going to happen,” Daugherty said.

Daugherty said although Galdeira is still finding her consistency, her ability to battle back and get things done on the court has been impressive as well.  Galdeira too has been banged up, but not to the extent of Presley.

“If you really knew behind the scenes how banged up she’s been, it’s a truly remarkable story,” said Daugherty.

The team has had success this season when both players are at their best simultaneously, which results in tons of scoring and an exciting brand of basketball, according to Daugherty.

Daugherty was especially thrilled with Sunday’s outcome because it was the ideal farewell for the three seniors on the team.

The win put the Cougars at 15-13 (9-7 Pac-12) on the season and ensured that the team finishes with their first .500 record since the 1995-96 season.

WSU now has a chance to take the momentum from Sunday’s huge win with them on the road and get some revenge against the two best teams in the conference, Stanford and California.

Wins against either or both teams would pay huge dividends to the Cougars’ post-season seeding and guarantee them a winning record.

“It’s exciting, we really felt like the conference championship,” Daugherty said, “the alignment for the top four, and the placement for the Pac-12 tournament was going to come down to the last week and that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”

The Cougars lost to both Stanford and Cal earlier this month by a combined 25 points and struggled to matchup against the program’s elite front lines.

Against Oregon, sophomore guard Dawnyelle Awa recorded a career-high eight assists over Oregon and is one of the Pac-12 leaders in that category.

The emergence of the sophomore guard this season has made her one of the unsung heroes on both offense and defense.

“Dawny is so steady as a floor leader and you know what you’re going to get from her every night,” Daugherty said. “There is a calmness about her that gives her teammates confidence because of these strengths.”

Daugherty said Awa’s knowledge of the game and ability to learn has led to her improving each and every day.

“She is very tuned in to the goals of the team and this program so she’s doing everything she can to help herself get there and bring herself along,” said.