Banking on the boards

It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing as Washington State women’s basketball team ventured off on a four-game road trip the past two weeks. The Cougars (12-10, 6-4) returned to the frigid climate of Pullman this week after spending the weekend in sunny Southern California closing out their four-game road trip against USC and UCLA.

They went 1-3 on the trip but their 79-75 win over USC at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Friday snapped a three-game losing skid.

In that win, the hero of the night was Dawnyelle Awa who hit a go-ahead layup in the final seconds to seal the victory. Awa, who Head Coach June Daugherty was quick to praise in her weekly media conference, finished that game with 12 points.

“People know her as a facilitator but her scoring ability has vastly improved since last year and she’s been able to hit some big shots,” Daugherty said. “(Awa) is just intellectually extremely ahead of her time as a basketball player.”  

Despite Awa proving to be a bright spot over the weekend, the loss to the Bruins highlighted some key areas which needed improvement for Daugherty’s group.


The margin on the glass against the Trojans was even but the Bruins held 47-35 advantage on the glass over WSU. Daugherty said ultimately it was that portion of the game which caused the defeat.

“We had a good practice Tuesday but we need to continue to improve,” Daugherty said. “When it was all said and done, we reviewed film and we just can’t have those types of miscues against the depth and aggressiveness of Stanford and California as two teams that rebound well both offensively and defensively.”

Defending without fouling:

This issue has appeared in multiple games for the Cougars this year, mostly affecting their star guards Tia Presley and Lia Galdeira.

Opposing teams know that when both Galdeira and Presley are on the court together they are a force to be reckoned with, but when one of them is in foul trouble their effectiveness is limited.  

Daugherty said one of the first drills they worked on in practice Tuesday emphasized closing off driving lanes to the basket and defending without committing fouls.

“With the rule emphasis this year both in the post and the perimeter,” Daugherty said, “you just cannot touch anybody so one of the things that’s hard about that this year is you have to beat players to the spot or the offense has the complete advantage.”

 Daugherty added that in the past she could have players not be able to beat opponents to the spot but could have them slow them down with an arm bar.

Overall the weekend featured pluses and minuses but with that in the past, Daugherty is focused on the monumental task ahead of her Cougar squad.

“Another great opportunity is in front of us with two nationally ranked teams from the Bay Area coming to town,” Daugherty said. “Stanford and Cal feature two of the better premier front lines in the world.”