GEORGE RODRIGUEZ | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE
WSU women’s basketball returns home to face two ranked opponents after losing to a pair of conference foes in the Bay Area this past weekend.
The Cougars (7-11, 2-5) will face No. 5 Oregon on Friday and then battle No.9 Oregon State on Sunday.
WSU met these two teams a few weeks ago. The Cougars put on a strong showing against the Beavers (15-3, 5-1) on Jan. 4 in Corvallis, nearly pulling off an upset.
The Cougars’ contest against the Ducks (17-1, 6-0) on Jan. 6 in Eugene was anything but impressive as they got crushed by 40 points.
Head Coach Kamie Ethridge said it’s going to be a battle trying to knock off a physical Oregon team.
“It doesn’t matter what you change in the game, if you don’t play hard you’re not going to beat [Oregon],” Ethridge said. “Obviously we are going to tweak our approach but I think what we did wasn’t very good, and we didn’t play very hard.”
Ethridge also said the Ducks dominated them in most aspects of the game.
Currently, five Pac-12 teams are ranked and three of those are in the top 10. Ethridge said it’s always a challenge competing against ranked opponents but the Cougars feel ready this week.
Ethridge said for the past couple of years WSU has played the Beavers tough due to their lack of physicality and similar approach on the court.
“Oregon State doesn’t play as physical basketball as other teams which allows us to keep it a close contest,” Ethridge said. “We need to trust that if the ball moves, we’re going to get good shots.”
Junior forward Borislava Hristova leads the team in points, averaging 21.3 points per contest which is third-best in the Pac-12 and 13th in the nation.
Hristova scored in double figures in all 18 games this season and the Cougars will need to continue to give her the ball to stay competitive with the Ducks and Beavers.
The Ducks have five players who average double figures in points per game and the Beavers have three with a heavily-involved bench. Meanwhile, the Cougars have three double-digit scorers with a struggling bench. WSU’s highest scoring substitute player averages 3.5 points per contest.
Ethridge said she and the staff try to give their non-starters more playing time.
“Our bench players are starting to get to the point where we really do trust them,” Ethridge said, “and I’ve got to do that in a game even if it is a tight game or a great team.”
The Cougars will take on the Ducks at 7 p.m. Friday and the Beavers at noon Sunday both in Beasley Coliseum. Both games can also be seen live on Pac-12 Networks.