PULLMAN, Wash. – Junior guard Tia Presley scored a career-high 37 points for Washington State who overcame a 12-point halftime deficit and posted a 92-79 victory over Fresno State at Beasley Coliseum Friday.
The Cougars (3-3) shot 50 percent in the second half defeat a Bulldogs’ (2-2) team that has made six straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Following a first half that saw Fresno State hit eight threes and shoot over 62 percent, WSU erupted for 57 points in the second half, hitting five threes and holding Fresno State to 22 percent shooting. Sophomore guard Lia Galdeira caught fire for the Cougars in the second half, scoring all 20 of her points in the final 20 minutes. Fellow sophomore guard Dawnyelle Awa added 11 points and five assists while senior forward Sage Romberg recorded seven points, nine rebounds and six assists.
The Cougars scored 24 points off of 18 turnovers and owned a 24-10 advantage in second-chance points after outrebounding the Bulldogs 46-28.
Presley’s 37 points were the second-most in WSU single-game history and four away from the Jenni Ruff’s school record of 41, set in 1996 against California. Presley finished the game 15-of-24 from the floor including a career high five threes, all five coming in the first half. She also grabbed six boards and made three steals. Her 15 made field goal attempts tie her for the most in WSU single-game history with three other players. The Spokane native now owns three 20+ scoring efforts through the Cougars first six games.
Presley got things going for the Cougars early on, hitting a pair of threes and scoring eight straight points at one point to give WSU at two-point lead.
Fresno State caught fire from outside midway through the half to build a 10-point lead but Presley kept Washington State in it, hitting two more threes before junior center Shalie Dheensaw scored on a layup after taking a no-look pass from Awa. Sophomore guard Taylor Edmondson capped the 10-0 run with a jumper, tying things up at 24.
The Bulldogs again went to the three-ball, connecting on two more from behind the arc before extending the lead to eight with two free throws. Presley stayed hot for the Cougars with two more threes but Fresno State continued to knock down shots, closing the half with a 10-3 run to hold a 47-35 advantage into the break.
Fresno State shot over 62 percent from the field in the first half including eight threes. Presley led all scorers with 22 points in the first 20 minutes. The Cougars shot 43 percent but saw the Bulldogs score 16 points off of 12 turnovers.
Washington State opened the second half trading baskets with Fresno State before Awa and Galdeira each hit threes to cut the Bulldogs lead to eight. WSU then made its move with its deciding 18-2 run over a four minute stretch.
The Cougars cut the lead to six on a Presley jumper and later to three, 60-57 on Romberg’s layup that started the 18-2 run. Galdeira hit a three to tie things up at 60 at the 10:08 mark and Presley followed with another runner in the lane to give WSU a two-point lead. Following a Fresno State basket, Presley started a 9-0 run with a jumper and Galdeira later hit her third three of the half to push the lead to ten, 72-62. Dheensaw’s free throw ended the run at the 6:01 mark, with the Cougars holding an 11-point lead with six minutes remaining.
Fresno State later made it a seven-point game, but Washington State answered with baskets of its own and converted at the free throw line down the stretch to post the victory.
The Cougars hit the road for a pair of tough nonconference tests next week, facing BYU Tuesday in Provo and then heading out to matchup against Nebraska in Lincoln, next Saturday.