Cougars take on Redhawks in first road game

Junior+guard+Tia+Presley+prepares+to+shoot+a+free+throw+during+a+home+game+against+Syracuse%2C+Sunday%2C+Nov.+10.

Junior guard Tia Presley prepares to shoot a free throw during a home game against Syracuse, Sunday, Nov. 10.

The Washington State women’s basketball team will say goodbye to the friendly confines of Beasley Coliseum this week. The Cougars get to play the role of road warrior for the next four games, starting with a contest tonight against the Seattle University Redhawks.

Seattle, coming off a home-opening loss to Pepperdine, is looking to right the ship against the Cougars.

The Redhawks are used to battling in close games and are working towards turning their program around. Washington State will be the first of three Pac-12 schools the Redhawks face this season.

“Joan Bonvicini has done a phenomenal job with that program,” said WSU head coach June Daugherty. “They were actually an overtime, I believe, away from going to the NCAA’s last year.”

Seattle finish last year wasn’t a fluke.

“Most of that team is back. They’re loaded up, ready to go and a very experienced group,” she said.

Washington State is coming off a loss at home to the Syracuse Orange. Syracuse dominated Washington State on the glass and forced key mistakes down the stretch in Sunday’s game. The Orange held off a WSU comeback, and the Cougars lost by four, 69-65, to open the season.

“We’ve got to get better,” said Daugherty. “We have four games on the road in the next seven days, so, we’ve got to take care of the glass offensively and defensively.”

Washington State will have to deal with Seattle’s leading rebounder and solid post player senior forward Kacie Sowell. She averaged 11.3 rebounds per game last season while leading the Redhawks in scoring, averaging 18.5 points per game.

Seattle had five players scoring double digits against Pepperdine last Friday.

For Washington State, playing on the road will be a pivotal piece that decides their non-conference success or failure.

“We like to make sure that we take care of our business on the road,” said Daugherty. “Last year, this was one of our challenges. We typically would play well and then the next game, not play so well.”

To combat the rollercoaster tendencies the Cougars showed last year, Daugherty and her ball club are working on their mental and physical toughness.

“This is something that we’ve really focused on, in our mental toughness and our consistency as a ball club to be up for every game and play 40 minutes,” she said.

Washington State played tough for a full 40 minutes on Sunday and will aim to carry their positive performance into play at the Connolly Center tonight.

The Cougars’ greatest improvements must lie inside the painted area. In the season-opener, Syracuse out-rebounded Washington State 61-46 and collected 16 second chance points to go along with 38 points in the paint.

To achieve success, the level of focus needs to be high in each non-conference game for the Cougars, said Daugherty.  

“We can’t have any drop off at any time this year, because our preseason schedule is as good as it gets,” she said.