Upset season


WSU junior guard Tia Presley drives baseline during a road game against Nebraska, Saturday, Nov. 30.

Trevor Williams Evergreen Women's Basketball reporter

When Jeff Griesch, one of Nebraska’s radio broadcasters, predicted the Washington State women’s basketball team would need 15 three-pointers to defeat the Associated Press No. 10 Nebraska Cornhuskers, he probably didn’t imagine that the unranked Cougars would actually make a run at the mark he set.

Washington State (4-4, 0-0) shocked the thousands of fans wearing Cornhusker red inside Pinnacle Bank Arena. WSU handed Nebraska (6-1, 0-0) their first loss on the season and provided plenty of drama in the Midwest, ending the game 76-72.

WSU sophomore guard Taylor Edmondson and the Cougars certainly found their rhythm from beyond the arc and from the floor Saturday. The contest provided plenty of scoring runs for each team, sandwiched between tight defensive efforts.

After leading 29-14 in the early stages, Washington State relinquished a 14-0 run to the Huskers. The Cougars tried to extend their lead over Nebraska in the closing minutes of the half and held a seven point lead (45-38) going into the break.

Edmondson led the Cougars in scoring heading to the locker room with 11 points. She was 3-4 from three-point range in the opening period.

”It’s no surprise to me,” said WSU Head Coach June Daugherty. “She comes off the bench right now but she could start. Taylor knows that she’s a good scorer and that she has the green light, and it was great to see her in this atmosphere.”

However, the Cougars’ effort Saturday went far beyond Edmondson’s play. At the half, WSU was shooting 50 percent from the field and eclipsing that number with a 53 percent shooting mark from three-point range. WSU achieved these averages while Nebraska could only muster a 9 percent shooting percentage from downtown.

“Honestly, not to be boastful, this is what I know this team can do,” Daugherty said. ”We went to Europe in August and this is what we were doing. We hadn’t found our rhythm from the three-point line, although we have some very good shooters. The key for us was we were moving the basketball better tonight.”

Moving the basketball also allowed some of WSU’s shooters to continue to find their rhythm in the second half. Junior guard Tia Presley scored 13 of her 17 points in the second half, while sophomore guards Lia Galdeira, Dawnyelle Awa, and Edmondson all finished the game in double digits. Galdeira scored 14 points, and Awa and Edmondson scored 13 points each.

While the WSU shooters rose to the occasion against the nation’s No. 10 team, they received plenty of pushback from the Huskers. Nebraska mounted a big 16-0 run in the second half, following a 13-0 Cougar run earlier in the period.

Despite the back-and-forth play, the Cougars never seemed to waver mentally.

“We reminded them that it’s a game of runs, and they’re a great team ranked 10th in the country for a reason and undefeated,” Daugherty said. ”We’re going to make our runs, too. That was the same message the second half.”

The Cougar players also proved they could finish a tight game in a hostile environment.

“A lot of our girls had never played in an arena this loud, so for us to keep our composure and poise when they came back on us showed that we can hang with some of the top teams,” Presley said.

The Cougars also received some key defensive performances down the stretch in the game Saturday. Junior center Shalie Dheensaw made some of the most notable stops in the closing minutes by altering shots near the rim, before blocking a late layup attempt down low and sinking two free throws to give the Cougars the 76-72 win.

The victory was Washington State’s first against a top-10 opponent since 1998, when they beat No. 10 Arizona on the road. Nebraska already battled two Pac-12 opponents this season: UCLA and Utah. With the win, WSU will be the only team from the Pac-12 Conference to beat NU this season.