The Washington State Cougar women got punched in the gut Wednesday evening by a hot-shooting, perhaps under-appreciated Montana team and bounced from the WNIT. If you want that story, go HERE. I’m not trying to talk about that.
What I want to talk about today is the fabulous season that we Cougar fans have been waiting for from our ladies for the last 20 years, because above anything else, that’s what this team and coaching staff deserves.
Honestly, before this season started I couldn’t have told you the last time Cougar women’s basketball was relevant. I’m not sure anyone could have. But hey, they became relevant quickly didn’t they?
The win over 10th ranked Nebraska got me and many fellow Cougs to buy in to what June Daugherty was selling, especially after putting together an unbelievable recruiting class and what with men’s basketball struggling to avoid the smallest of stumbles. Yup, I was down for some Cougar women’s basketball, for the first time… ever. Again, I think a lot of us kind of jumped on the train after that Nebraska win in Lincoln thinking ‘we might have a little something special here to cheer about during basketball season’.
Then it really took off. The awesome start in conference, including the same-week-sweep of something in purple, which hadn’t been done in like… 40 years or something stupid like that. Heck, the Cougs hadn’t even beat ‘em ONCE for a 19 year stretch. 19 FREAKING YEARS! What was it 36 or 37 straight? (No my math’s not off, there was a year or two where they only played one for some reason).
But who cares? That’s just far too long! Just like our men at UCLA… at some point you figure the law of flipping averages has to kick in right? Or maybe WSU’s on the wrong side of that law… I don’t know.
So what, we can chalk up the next 16 or 17 years to all Crimson domination in this state for the women, right? Hey a dude can dream, we all can dream. Regardless, this team was for real, but the toughest part of the schedule was yet to arrive, and did it ever.
But the ladies held it together, even after blowouts at the Oregon’s doused the fire a bit, that close win at USC was just huge. And it was all about hanging onto the buzz generated by that hot start from there. Thinking back on the last weekend, if the Cougs had one call go their way at the end of the basketball game in Berkeley (or more appropriately just not go Cal’s way), they would have avoided OT, gone to the Pac-12 Tournament in Seattle as the 6-seed, beat Utah, then had the chance to play Oregon State when they were hot and much fresher on day two.
Perhaps that even would have been enough with a win on the road at a top-20 Cal program to get them into the NCAA Tournament at 17-15. But it was not to be. Still, they fought hard to out-gun Oregon with a Pac-12 Tournament-record 107 points (they had smoked the Ducks for 108 just two weeks earlier as well), then come back the next night and put it on Cal for some revenge before bowing out to OSU.
What a valiant effort by the Tia and Lia Show, along with Shalie, Mariah, Taylor, Dawnyelle, Alexis and this senior class of Sage Romberg, Brandi Thomas and Hana Potter. They have put WSU women’s basketball back on the map, and really for much of the season were the only things that kept us going on basketball period. By the way I literally named everyone but Ivana Kmetovska, who at 6’3 I’m interested to see next season as much needed additional size, along with that freshman class I linked to earlier.
Shout out to June for the work she has done as well with this program. You deserve a big-time extension and raise, so there’s all we can do in the gesture of advocating for you. Hope you and your staff get both and I know Bill will come through with that at some point if he hasn’t already. If not this year, next for sure.
2014/2015 is going to be a blast to follow and with Pac-12 Networks covering more women’s basketball than ever before, you know we’ll keep in touch with our ladies! Thanks for the memories this season Cougars! You deserve a proper send off!