MISSOULA, Mont. – Washington State dropped its WNIT opening round road matchup 90-78 to the University of Montana at Dahlberg Arena Wednesday. The Cougars season ends with a 17-17 overall record, the most wins under head coach June Daugherty and the most since the 1994-95 team also won 17. The Cougars earned their first trip to the postseason since 1991.
Sophomore guard Lia Galdeira led Washington State with 22 points and senior forward Sage Romberg closed out her career with a season-high 18 points and added seven rebounds. Junior guard Tia Presley added 11 points and became the 17th Cougar to surpass the 1,000-career point milestone, joining Galdeira and Romberg who also surpassed the mark during the Pac-12 Tournament. Junior center Shalie Dheensaw added eight points while sophomores Mariah Cooks and Taylor Edmondson each added seven points. Cooks also grabbed seven rebounds.
WSU shot over 55 percent in the second half but was limited to 25 percent in the first half and surrendered 21 second chance points to Montana (23-10) who shot nearly 42 percent for the game and knocked down nine 3-pointers. The Lady Grizzlies went 29-of-35 at the free throw line while the Cougars went 16-of-22 at the charity stripe.
Montana opened the game with a pair of threes and shot over 50 percent for much of the first half. Romberg and sophomore guard Taylor Edmondson provided a couple sparks long three pointers. The Lady Grizzlies built their lead to 14 before the Cougars closed the half with a 6-1 spurt as Cooks scored on a drive, Galdeira knocked down a jumper and Cooks scored again after receiving a nice no-look pass from sophomore guard Dawnyelle Awa.
Washington State trailed 36-25 at the half after shooting 25 percent from the field. Galdeira led the Cougars with eight points while Montana shot over 39 percent from the field and hit four 3-pointers.
Awa opened the second half with three from straight away and Presley followed with a driving bucket to record her 1,000th career-point. Presley stayed hot, hitting a runner in the lane before connecting on a three from the right corner. Presley then hit a pair of free throws for nine straight points to pull the Cougars within eight, 45-37 at the 16:37 mark.
Washington State kept things close until a couple threes from the Grizzlies allowed them to slowly pull away. The Cougars stayed within striking distance as Galdeira and Romberg sank threes that kept the Montana lead at nine with 10:26 remaining.
The Lady Grizzlies answered with a three to regain a double-digit lead at the eight-minute mark and held the advantage for the remainder of the game.