BOULDER, Colo. – Down two with two minutes remaining, Washington State knocked down their free throws and came up with a couple defensive stops to post an 80-77 road victory over the University of Colorado Sunday.
The Cougars improved to 14-12 overall and 8-6 in Pac-12 Conference play, notching the most overall wins and conference wins since 1995-96. Colorado dropped to 14-11 and 4-10 in conference. The Cougars posted their first conference road sweep of the season and first since beating the Arizona schools last season.
“I thought we competed very hard tonight. The key was rebounding. We challenged them at halftime to work harded on the offensive boards and we responded,” head coach June Daugherty stated. “Our kids rallied together and came back in the final minute to come away with a road sweep. We played hard, played together, set great screens all game and played solid transition defense all game long.”
Junior guard Tia Presley notched her second-straight 32-point performance and senior forward Sage Romberg posted a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds as the Cougars notched a weekend road sweep after beating Utah in Salt Lake City Friday. Sophomore guard Lia Galdeira added 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals and junior center Shalie Dheensaw tallied nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Washington State shot over 43 percent from the field including seven 3-pointers while posting a 43-40 rebounding advantage.
“Tia (Presley ) is such a competitor. She is feeling healthy again and she understands that this is the time of year to turn things up another notch, “ Daugherty added. “It was a big win for our seniors, Sage (Romberg, Hana (Potter) and Brandi (Thomas). Romberg responded well in the second half and came up with some big rebounds, hit big shots and forced them into some tough shots on the defensive end.”
The Cougars received six quick points from Presley before sophomore guard Alexas Williamson and sophomore forward Mariah Cooks each hit threes from the left corner. Presley continued her hot start with a pair of threes, the second giving WSU a 22-19 lead at the 10:33 mark.
Colorado answered with six straight but Presley and Cougars countered with a 12-0 run with Presley scoring eight during that stretch as Washington State took a 34-25 lead.
The Buffaloes came with an 11-2 stretch to tie the game at 36 with 3:30 remaining. WSU closed the half with an 8-4 run as Dheensaw scored the final four points of the half to send the Cougars into the break leading 44-40.
Presley led all scorers with 22 first-half points while both teams shot over 43 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes.
Washington State opened the second half with a 9-4 run to take a nine-point lead. Colorado followed with an 11-3 run that cut the Cougar lead to one, 64-63 with 9:07 remaining.
Romberg ended the run with a three and senior forward Hana Potter and Galdeira each added buckets before the Buffs knotted things up at 71 with just over four minutes left after four straight points.
With under three minutes to go, Colorado took a two point lead, 75-73 following a couple free throws but the Cougars answered. Galdeira hit two clutch free throws to tie it and then Presley took a pass from Galdeira, drove to the right side and finished with a layup to put WSU back up 77-75 with 1:27 remaining.
The Cougars got a stop on defense but turned it over on their next possession. With under 40 seconds left, Washington State came up with another stop as Romberg forced a tough shot by Colorado and Dheensaw corralled the rebound. WSU missed the two free throws but the rebound got knocked out of bounds by CU. Galdeira calmy sank two more free throws to put the WSU lead back up to four with 12 seconds left. The Buffs hit a bucket and then fouled Dheensaw who hit the first free throw but missed the second. Colorado gained possession and called timeout with Washington State holding a three point lead and 1.1 left on the clock.
The Buffaloes were unable to get a shot off after making a midcourt heave and the Cougars clinched the road victory.
The Cougars return to Pullman next weekend to host Oregon State University Friday, Feb. 21 and the University of Oregon Sunday, Feb. 23.
Romberg hit one three to push her career total to 131, passing April Cook for fifth-most in WSU history…Romberg posted her first double-double of the season and second of her career…Romberg’s 12 rebounds were a career high…Presley notched her second straight 30-point game and third of the season…Presley is just the second player in WSU history to score 30 points in back-to-back games after Jenni Ruff did it twice in the 1995-96 season…Presley has scored 504 points this season, third-most in WSU single-season history and jus the third 500-point scorer in WSU history.