Regaining their rhythm

The blazing hot start the WSU women’s basketball team was off to has been doused by three-straight conference losses. Instead of returning to Beasley to reap the benefits of a home series, the Cougars (11-9, 5-3) complete the second half of a four-game road trip this weekend in Los Angeles. They will square off against the Trojans (14-7, 7-2) tonight and do battle with the UCLA Bruins (10-11, 4-5) on Super Bowl Sunday.

In order for the Cougars to re-establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-12, they will need to focus in on three different areas.

Hit Open Shots

It sounds easy, but during the weekend the Cougars combined to shoot 43-136 (31.6 percent) against Oregon and Oregon State.

“I thought the Oregon schools played very well against us,” Head Coach June Daugherty said. “Unfortunately for us we did not play as well as we can.”

Sophomore guard Lia Galdeira returned to action this past weekend after sitting out against Utah. She said rust played no factor in the poor shooting performance.

“I mean we try to get back on defense and pick it up because once we don’t do well on offense we slowly drop and nothing goes our way,” Galdeira said after shooting 13-of-37 from the field against Oregon and Oregon State combined.

Galdeira scored a total of 37 points in the two losses and junior guard Tia Presley added 20 points on the weekend but shot a combined 5-of-23 from the field.

Washington State as a team enters the weekend shooting 40 percent from the field and 32 percent from three-point range. If the Cougars are able to return to form this weekend, it will allow them to be in a position to win.

“You have got to find ways to continue to play hard for each other,” Daugherty said. “When we do that, good things happen.”

Keeping a consistent lineup

“We’ve been banged up and had some different line ups with some injuries, but the good news is we are starting to get Galdeira back and Dheensaw,” Daugherty said.

With the physicality that the women’s team plays, the players have battled through injury during the season. In the Tuesday Pac-12 teleconference, Daugherty said they finally got everyone back in full participation during practice.

“It came to the point where traveling started and we just had a bad start and everybody just was out of it, but I mean there is always room to improve everywhere,” Galdeira said.

Locking down defensively

Starting with the Utah loss, the Cougars gave up points in bunches. Their defense allowed offenses to run their game plans to perfection and sore by committee. In the last three contests, WSU allowed the opposing team to have at least three different players score in double figures and have surrendered and average of 71 points.

This week’s challenges will be USC senior forward Cassie Harberts, who is averaging 15.7 points per game and 7.4 rebounds.  Senior forward Atonye Nyingifa leads the way for the Bruins with 17.5 points per outing along with 8.8 rebounds.

“We’ve played against Harberts, and she is a great player, and I feel like our defense can shut her down and if we do our job… once you do that everything else falls into place,” Galdeira said.

Tonight’s game against USC at 6 p.m. will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Networks.