Jan. 7, 2006
PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State's Charmaine Jones returned to action in a big way by scoring a game-high 18 points, but the Cougars couldn't overcome a double-digit second half deficit as the Washington Huskies escaped the Palouse with a 73-70 win over the Cougars, Saturday at Beasley Coliseum.
The loss drops WSU to 6-8 overall and 0-5 in the Pacific-10 Conference. Washington improved to 11-3 overall and 4-1 in conference play.
Andrea Plouffe led a quartet of Huskies in double figures with 16 points. Breanne Watson (12 points), Cameo Hicks (11 points) and Dominique Banks (11 points) completed the contingent.
Jones, who missed the Cougars' last two games due to a concussion she sustained at Arizona last week and just returned to practice Friday, scored 14 of her game-high point total in the second half to rally WSU from a 14-point second-half deficit.
Down 72-70 with 13 seconds left, Jones had a chance to bring the Cougars all the way back but her attempt to tie the game fell off the mark. Hicks made one of two free throw attempts to extend Washington's lead to 73-70 with five seconds left. WSU had one more chance to tie but was unable to get a 3-point attempt off in the final seconds.
The Huskies struggled from 3-point territory making 4-of-22 attempts from beyond the arc, but made up for it by shooting 50 percent from inside the arc (23-of-46). The Cougars shot over 56 percent for the game (23-of-41) including over 63 percent in the second half (14-of-22).
After falling behind by as much as 10 in the game's early stages, the Cougars rallied to take a 32-30 halftime lead. After an exchange of points in the opening moments of the second half, the Huskies took control by outscoring WSU 27-12 to earn a 64-50 advantage with 8:33 remaining.
The Cougars gradually chipped away at Washington's lead and found themselves down 70-61 with 4:08 left. WSU used a 9-2 run, with Jones accounting for six points in the run, to pull within 72-70 with 45 seconds left.
"I'm really concerned about the way we start games," WSU Head Coach Sherri Murrell said. "We're fighting, but we're fighting out of holes. Defensively we had a tough time. I think this is the worse game we played defensively in the last six games."
Although the Cougars benefited from the return of Jones, the team was without the services of junior guard Adriane Ferguson for the 10th straight game. Ferguson, who broke her right fifth (pinky) finger during a win against Idaho State, Nov. 26, is expected to return to action in 10 to 14 days.
"Charmaine had one practice before she came out here; she made a great effort tonight," Murrell said. "We have two kids--Adriane Ferguson and Charmaine--who have been injured. The bottom line is that we got to win these (games). People have to step up in different positions."
WSU returns to action hosting USC, Thursday, Jan. 12 for a 7 p.m. tip at Beasley Coliseum.