PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State came up with a defensive stop on the game's final possession and held off the University of Arizona’s comeback attempt to secure a 61-59 victory in Beasley Coliseum Sunday.
WSU improved to 8-6 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-12 play while Arizona dropped to 4-8 and 0-2 in conference play. Washington State has now won six straight against the Arizona schools and starts Pac-12 play 2-0 for the second time in the last three seasons.
Sophomore guard Lia Galdeira led all scorers with 16 points and five steals while junior guard Tia Presley added 14 points. Senior forward Sage Romberg just missed out on a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. Junior center Shalie Dheensaw finished with nine points and eight boards to along with a block while playing a team-high 33 minutes.
Washington State held off a feisty Wildcat team that shot over 57 percent in the second half and 46 percent for the game. The Cougars were held to 28 percent from the field in the second half but registered a 40-30 rebound advantage including a couple key offensive rebounds in the final minutes.
WSU overcame a slow start with a 6-0 spurt and later used a 13-3 run to build a double-digit lead midway through the first half. Dheensaw’s jumper from the left elbow capped the run and gave WSU a 23-13 advantage at the 7:14 mark.
Galdeira later added a three, Romberg hit a jumper from the baseline and finished off a fastbreak with an acrobatic no-look layup. Presley capped the half by taking an inbounds pass and raced up the leftside of the court and before getting her layup to fall at the buzzer and pushing the Cougar lead to 34-22.
Washington State shot 50 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes while limiting the Wildcats to 33 percent shooting and forcing 10 turnovers. Presley led all scorers with 10 points. Galdeira and Romberg each recorded eight.
The Cougars opened their lead up to 14 in the opening minutes of the second half but the Wildcats answered with a 9-1 run and later made it a two-point WSU lead after a three at the 12:21 mark. Arizona eventually tied things up at 49 with 7:29 remaining but WSU continued to find a way to regain the lead after the Wildcats tied things up twice more over the next three minutes.
Washington State took the lead for good on Dheensaw’s layup with 3:32 remaining before a Presley rebound putback layup gave WSU a four-point lead with just over two minutes left. Both teams traded baskets down the stretch before Galdeira’s jumphook rattled in from just inside the free throw line to push the lead back up to four with 53 seconds left. Arizona came back down and scored to again make a two-point WSU lead. The Cougars missed on runner in the lane on the ensuing offensive trip but came up with a stop on the game’s final possession as Romberg forced a Wildcat loose ball and time ran out before Arizona get a good look a potential game-tying or game-winning shot.
The Cougars wrap up their four-game homestand Tuesday hosting the University of Washington at 7 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks. Both teams will square off once more next Saturday in Seattle at 3 p.m.