Cougs fall to Cal, bid farewell to pair of seniors

Golden Bears beat WSU by 22 points in team’s regular season finale



Freshman guard Cherilyn Molina, right, dribbles up the court on a break away with senior guard Alexys Swedlund during the Cougars loss to Cal on Sunday afternoon in Beasley Coliseum.

JOHN SPELLMAN, Evergreen reporter

It was a bittersweet Sunday afternoon at home for the WSU women’s basketball team as the seniors were honored when the team took on Cal in their final test before the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Cougars (9-20, 4-14) looked to send their two seniors off on a high note in their last game at Beasley Coliseum. Unfortunately the Golden Bears (18-11, 9-9) had other plans. Cal dominated WSU 80-58 to hand the Cougars their fourth straight loss to close out the regular season.

Cal senior forward Kristine Anigwe had a historic day to lead the Golden Bears. She scored 32 points and a Pac-12 record 30 rebounds.

Head Coach Kamie Ethridge said the team had a difficult time defending Anigwe because if they tried to double-team her she would kick it out to Cal’s three-point shooters.

“Well, what do you say?” Ethridge said. “I’ve not seen a player that can get a 30/30 day, and [Anigwe] just creates a lot of problems.”

The first quarter started off even between the two teams with the score tied at 10. Then Cal went on a 15-2 run to take a 25-12 lead after 10 minutes.

The second quarter saw a similar theme as the Cougars were unable to decipher the tight defensive scheme of the Golden Bears. Some key defensive stops for WSU allowed the Cougars to cut into the lead, bringing it down to six points with just under four minutes remaining in the quarter.

However, Cal returned to its dominant form and Anigwe stepped up with three baskets in the final 2:12.

The Cougars got a three-pointer from senior guard Alexys Swedlund, in her final game in Pullman, right before the half to make the score 42-30 in favor of the Golden Bears at halftime.

The Cougars and the Golden Bears each shot 44 percent or better from the field in the first half. Redshirt junior forward Borislava Hristova led WSU with 12 points and Anigwe had 17 points and 18 rebounds at the break.

Cal didn’t slow down in the second half and held a 60-46 advantage at the end of the third quarter. The big difference between the two teams was rebounding with Cal outrebounding the Cougs 40-18 after 30 minutes of action.

WSU was able to get some momentum in the fourth quarter by forcing some crucial stops and getting another big three-pointer from Swedlund to cut the lead down to 10 with 7:46 remaining in regulation.

However, WSU was not able to capitalize on Cal’s missed shots with the Golden Bears stranglehold on the rebounding category.

Despite a last-ditch effort by the Cougs to come back, Cal held on for an 80-58 win on the road.

The loss may have been tough, but there was a heartwarming moment when Ethridge pulled Swedlund and senior center Maria Kostourkova out of the game with 40 seconds remaining. The crowd inside Beasley roared as the pair stepped off the court for the final time at home.

“I appreciate what the seniors gave in their sacrifice and their leadership,” Ethridge said. “They both are competitive people, and they play with a lot of passion, and those are elements we need in our program, so I hope they left an imprint of that to the younger players in our program.”

Hristova led the Cougars in scoring with 21 points, followed by Swedlund with 17.

“I just wanted to do what was best for the team tonight and there were a lot of emotions coming into the game,” Swedlund said. “I just loved playing for the Cougs for the last four years, being able to play in Beasley for the last time today was such a great honor for me.”

The Cougars turn their attention toward the Pac-12 Tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. WSU is the No. 10 seed and will face No. 7 seed Cal for the third time this season in the first round 6 p.m. Thursday.