SALT LAKE CITY – Junior guard Tia Presley scored a game-high 32 points and sophomore guard Lia Galdeira added 16 points in the second half to help Washington State post an 83-73 road victory over the University of Utah Friday.
The Cougars improved to 13-12 overall and 7-6 in Pac-12 play, the most wins overall and in conference play since 1995-96. Utah dropped to 10-14 overall and 3-10 in conference. Washington State shot 48 percent in the second half and scored 22 points off of 15 Utah turnovers while holding off the Utes who shot over 50 percent from the field. The Cougars committed a season-low five turnovers, recorded 18 second-chance points and outscored Utah 51-36 in the second half.
“Our goal was to play hard and I thought we did that, especially in the second half,” head coach June Daugherty said. “We played with a lot of guts, played much harder in the second half and our frontline did a great job playing hard on both ends. Sage (Romberg) came up with a couple big rebounds and our bench played great, good to see Hana (Potter) back playing.”
Presley tallied her second 30-point game of the season (37 vs. Fresno State) and tied a WSU single-game record for free throws made with 16 and set a school record with 21 free throw attempts.
“Tia (Presley) did a great job keeping her composure and coming up big for us tonight,” Daugherty added. “She got hit hard all night but she shook it off and kept coming back. It was a great game by Tia.”
Galdeira hit three 3-pointers in the second half and finished with 18 points despite being held to two points on 1-for-9 from the field in the first half. She added four steals. Senior forward Sage Romberg grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds to go along with her seven points. Sophomore guard Dawnyelle Awa added eight points and hit 5-of-6 free throw attempts in the final minutes.
Washington State took and early five-point lead after a pair of threes from sophomore guards Dawnyelle Awa and Alexas Williamson. The Cougars received a boost from its bench midway through the half as senior forward Hana Potter tallied four quick points to help WSU keep its lead.
Utah’s hot shooting countered the Cougars strong start and eventually produced a 13-4 run late in the half to take its first lead. Washington State answered with seven straight on a Presley drive and free throw, a layup from Galdeira and a rebound putback from Romberg that gave WSU a 31-30 lead with 2:23 remaining.
The Utes again came back, scoring seven straight before Presley’s layup ended the half and cut the Utah lead to 37-33 at the break. The Utes shot over 57 percent from the floor while the Cougars tallied nine points off of six Utah turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
Washington State opened the second half with four quick points as Romberg knocked down a three to get the Cougars going. Galdeira got her strong second half going with a three from straight away that tied the game at 43 at the 16:38 mark. Presley followed with a layup and then ripped the ball away from a Utah player following the inbounds pass and Edmondson finished off the possession with a three at the top of the key, giving WSU a five-point lead.
Minutes later, the Cougars slowly began to pull away as Galdeira and Presley combined to score the next 10 points with Galdeira’s three pushing the lead to 60-55 with 11:52 remaining.
Utah answered with and 8-2 run before Galdeira scored four straight to regain a three-point lead, 66-63 with 8:36 left.
The Cougars put the game away with a Galdeira three following a clutch rebound by Romberg on a missed Presley free throw. Galdeira’s three put the lead at five and another big play came from the Cougar bench as sophomore forward Mariah Cooks drew a charge on defense. The Cougars made the most of it as Presley and Awa sealed the game up at the free throw line.
The Cougars continue their road trip Sunday at the University of Colorado at Noon (PT) on the Pac-12 Networks.
Romberg hit one three to up her career 3-point total to 130, tying April Cook for the fifth-most in WSU history…Presley tallied her second career 30-point game and team-leading tenth 20-point game this season.