SEATTLE – Washington State advanced to the Pac-12 Tournament Semifinals for the second time in the last three seasons with a 91-83 victory over No. 20/20 University of California at KeyArena Friday.
Washington State will face Oregon State Saturday at 8:30 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks. Stanford and USC will meet in the other semifinal matchup at 6 p.m.
The Cougars (17-15) used a 14-5 run late in the second half to turn a one-point halftime lead into an eight-point victory and post its fourth win over a ranked team this season. The 17 wins are the most since the 1995-96 went 17-12. Washington State shot over 47 from the field, had four players score in double figures and recorded 26 second-chance points against second-seeded Cal who saw their record slip to 21-9. WSU held Cal to 34 percent shooting in the second half and outscored the Bears 10-0 in fastbreak points.
Sophomore guard Lia Galdeira scored a game-high 28 points, 17 in the second half, grabbed seven rebounds, made three steals and went 13-of-16 at the free throw line, both are career highs at the charity stripe. Junior guard Tia Presley added 19 points, sophomore forward Mariah Cooks finished with 12 points. Senior forward Sage Romberg scored a season-high 16 points after hitting three 3-pointers and surpassed the 1,000-career point milestone, joining Galdeira who reached the mark in Thursday’s win over Oregon.
Washington State answered Cal’s early lead with six straight points and later built a four-poitn lead following two free throws from Cooks and a jumper from Romberg. Both teams traded buckets for much of the half before the Cougars put together an 8-0 run, all scored by Romberg who hit a three, grabbed a rebound and quickly went back up for a layup, recording her 1,000-career point in the process. Romberg then drained another three from the left wing for a 26-21 WSU lead at the 9:50 mark.
The Golden Bears came right back with nine straight before Dheensaw settled in an scored on two straight possessions to knot the game at 30 with 6:50 remaining. Late in the half, Washington State used a 9-0 run of their own as Presley sparked the run with a floater in the lane before Galdeira knocked down a pullup three on a fastbreak. Presley then scored from underneath the basket and Galdeira capped the run with two free throws.
WSU took a 45-44 lead into the break following a couple free throws and last second layup by Cal. Galdeira, Presley and Romberg all finished the first 20 minutes in double figures as both teams shot over 47 percent from the floor. Cal recorded 10 points off of eight Cougar turnovers.
Washington State received threes from Galdeira and Romberg in the early minutes of the second half and the Cougars held a five-point lead at the 15:25 mark after another Galdeira three.
Edmondson and Cooks provided sparks off the bench for the second straight night, as Edmondson hit a three and Cooks ignited the game-deciding run with two straight driving buckets beginning at the 11:30 mark. Galdeira followed Cooks’ baskets with turnaround jumper and Cooks added a pull-up jumper a minute later. Following a Cal timeout and basket, Edmondson hit her second three of the night from the left wing and Dheensaw followed with a jumper that rattled in. Galdeira later capped the 14-5 run with another basket for a 78-63 lead at the 8:02 mark.
The Golden Bears slowly cut the WSU lead to single digits and eventually six before Presley hit a three in the left corner as the shot clock expired to push the lead back up to nine with 1:25 remaining. Cal made it a six-point game late but Galdeira sank three more free throws and the Cougars got some stops in the final 44 seconds to seal up the game.