LOS ANGELES – Five players scored in double figures for Washington State University in a 79-75 victory over the University of Southern California at the Galen Center Friday.
The Cougars improved to 12-9 overall and 6-3 in Pac-12 play after receiving a couple of clutch baskets from junior center Shalie Dheensaw and sophomore guard Dawnyelle Awa in the final 90 seconds to beat USC (14-8, 7-3 Pac-12) for the third time in the last four meetings.
Junior guard Tia Presley led the Cougars with 21 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals while Dheensaw recorded her third double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds to go along with a pair of blocks. Awa finished with 12 points, 10 coming in the second half and sophomore guard Lia Galdeira recorded 10 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Taylor Edmondson and sophomore forward Mariah Cooks both came off the bench to score 10 and eight points, respectively.
Washington State scored 25 points off of 21 Trojan turnovers, highlighted by a season-best 14 steals. Both teams shot 42 percent from the floor with the Cougars hitting 50 percent in the second half.
“It was a great team effort all the way around tonight,” head coach June Daugherty said. “We focused on sharing the basketball this week and did a great job in the first half. Our bench was tremendous, our guards did a great job rebounding and that was difference. Dawny (Awa) and Shalie brought it home for us tonight.”
The Cougars used an early 13-2 run to own a six-point lead midway through the first half. Senior forward Sage Romberg’s baseline jumper got things going, Dheensaw followed a USC bucket with a rebound putback, Presley added a pair of free throws, Galdeira then knocked down jumpers on two straight possessions and Edmondson capped the run with a three from the top of the key.
Washington State pressured the Trojans throughout the half, forcing 15 turnovers in the first 20 minutes and the Cougars scored 18 points off of the USC miscues. WSU put together an 8-1 run late in the half before USC hit a three at the buzzer to cut the Cougar lead to 35-29 at the break. Presley led all scorers with 12 points, hitting 8-of-11 at the free throw line along the way.
WSU opened the second half with a couple threes from Awa and Cooks to take a double-digit lead but USC answered with six straight points and later used a 7-0 streak to pull within two, 50-48 at the 11-minute mark.
Both teams traded buckets during a fast-paced and physical second half before the Trojans scored five straight to take at 60-59 lead with 5:54 remaining, its first lead since the game’s opening minutes.
Things really picked up in the final five minutes as Presley answered with at three in left corner, Cooks hit a clutch baseline jumper and Romberg later tied the game at 69 with a three in the left corner with 2:21 remaining.
USC regained a two-point lead on the ensuing possession but the Cougars countered with a free throw from Presley and a rebound putback by Dheensaw as she was fouled that gave WSU a one-point lead with 1:22 remaining. Dheensaw missed the free throw but the ball was knocked out of bound and initially ruled USC ball but was reviewed and awarded to WSU. Following the review, Awa drove by a Trojan defender for a layup and a 74-71 advantage with 1:03 remaining.
Southern California hit one of two free throws on its next trip to make it a two-point game but Awa made the play of the game, bursting by a USC defender for a layup as she was fouled. Awa’s free throw pushed the Cougar lead to five with 22 seconds left.
The Trojans hit a three to again make it a two-point game and immediately fouled Dheensaw on the inbounds pass. Dheensaw missed the first free throw attempt but Galdeira skyed high for the rebound and was fouled. She sank both to push the lead back to four with 13 seconds left and the Cougars got a stop to up the win.
Washington State wraps up its Los Angeles road trip Sunday against UCLA at Noon.
Tia Presley recorded her seventh 20-point game of the season and No. 10 of her career….Dheensaw recorded her third career double-double, all have come this season and during Pac-12 play…Galdeira’s nine boards tied a season-high…the Cougars six conference wins tie last year’s total.