The intimidation melted, desperation set in and the Washington State Cougars finally found the spark of life they were looking for Saturday night. But the game in which they were gasping for air had been long since decided, thanks to deadly Beaver freshman Sydney Wiese who shot the lights out in Key Arena and 6’6 sophomore Ruth Hamblin who was the dominant force on the night.
The Cougars were quiet early and fell down as many as 22 before trying to rally late in the game. Unfortunately, their tourney would come to an abrupt halt. But all is not lost on an overachieving season, we don’t think.
The Cougars finish the season 17-16 with four top-25 victories to their credit, including an early national win over then No. 10 Nebraska and a win over No. 20 (and 2-seed) California Friday night in the Pac-12 Tournament. The loss to OSU is far from a bad thing, the Beavers are very good and will probably receive a 6-seed or so in the NCAA Tournament, regardless of what happens tonight. Also, the Beavers just had the Cougs’ number this season, beating them handily in all three meetings, which is just a feather in their cap, as Washington State is a very capable opponent.
Finishing in the 7th slot for WSU means they more than likely won’t receive their own NCAA Tourney bid, but they should easily have done enough to secure a berth (and even a decent enough bid for home consideration) into the Women’s NIT.
Had they beaten Utah earlier in the season (what turned out to be a heartbreaking 2-point loss practically at the buzzer) and Cal a week ago in Berkeley (where a questionable call allowed Cal into OT) and everything else had played out the way it did as far as reaching the Semi’s, we’d be talking about a 19 win team and that NCAA berth might be in play. But dem’s da breaks.
At any rate Tia Presley and Lia Galdeira are two exciting players with a good enough supporting cast that they could lead their team all the way to the Final Four of that NIT tournament. It will be fun to see where they end up being seeded after Sunday’s action, which marks the end of women’s conference championship play. We are of course assuming they will get in.