Nov. 30, 2011
PULLMAN, Wash. -- Washington State University's redshirt-sophomore Ireti Amojo hit a game-tying three with 10 seconds remaining but No. 24 ranked Gonzaga University saw guard Taelor Karr race the length of the floor and get her layup to fall with three seconds remaining to hand the Cougs a heartbreaking 71-69 defeat in front of 2,930 fans at Friel Court at Beasley Coliseum Wednesday evening.
WSU (4-4) had three players finish in double figures in its home opener as freshman guard Tia Presley led the way with a team-high 16 points with Amojo and junior forward Carly Noyes each adding 12. Senior guard Jazmine Perkins had seven points, seven boards and made five steals while sophomore forward Sage Romberg added eight points, six rebounds and five steals.
Gonzaga (4-1) opened the game by scoring the first seven points before senior guard April Cook hit a jumper and Amojo hit her first of four three's on the night.
The Bulldogs then used a 14-7 spurt to open up a 29-18 advantage but the Cougs caught fire in the final minutes of the half, outscoring Gonzaga 16-6 in the final 6:17 to stay within one. Amojo got things started with a three in the left corner and Noyes followed with a layin. After a GU jumper, Romberg drove to her right and got her layup to fall as she was fouled and went on to hit free throw. The next trip down, Presley drove to the basket, hung and hit a runner off the glass while getting fouled and went on to hit her free throw to cut the deficit to two. Romberg added a three minutes later from the right wing and Perkins connected on a pair of free throws to give the Cougs their first lead, 34-33 with 39 seconds remaining in the half.
Gonzaga would hit a jumper in the final minute to take a 35-34 lead into the break. Presley led all players with eight points through the first 20 minutes while the Cougs knocked down four three's to stay within one.
The Bulldogs opened the half with an 11-1 run but the Cougs kept knocking down shots to keep it close as senior forward Rosie Tarnowski hit a three in the left corner to cut the Gonzaga lead to 52-47 with 12:45 remaining.
Tarnowski continued to spark WSU off the bench, scoring the next three points before Presley continued to step up for the Cougs, hitting a long three from the right wing and later adding a pair of free throws after a strong drive to the basket. Cook then hit two free throws to cap a 10-0 Cougar run and give WSU a 57-53 WSU lead at the 8:29 mark.
Perkins made it a four point lead with a three from the top of the key to cap the 13-3 run and open the WSU lead to 60-56 with 5:48 remaining. The Zags slowed things down with a timeout to calm the loud Cougar crowd and scored the next four points and tie the game at 60.
Romberg came right back with a jumper but Gonzaga scored the next seven points to take a five point lead. Presley again shined in crunch time as she stole an inbounds pass and got a layup before Perkins came away with a steal and went coast-to-coast for the layin to cut the GU lead to 67-66 with 1:02 left on the clock.
The Cougs then forced a Gonzaga miss but turned it over on the ensuing possession and were forced to foul as Karr hit both free throws to put the Zags up three with 17 seconds left. WSU called timeout and drew up a play for Amojo who got free on the left wing and knocked down a long three to tie it at 69. Gonzaga quickly inbounded the ball to Karr who raced the length of the floor and got her layup to fall with three seconds left to give Gonzaga the two-point win.
WSU finished the game shooting 43.1 percent from the floor including season-best 47.4 percent from behind the arc after hitting 9-of-19. Gonzaga had four players finish in double figures and shot 48.3 percent while committing 21 turnovers.
The Cougars continue their season-long four-game homestand Friday against San Diego State, Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
GAME NOTES...Presley's 16 points are a season-high...WSU's nine threes are a season-high...The Cougs lost to Gonzaga 67-65 in Hawaii last season after GU hit two free throws with five seconds remaining to break a 65-65 tie...WSU played its first seven games on the road...the four-game homestand is the Cougs longest of the season.