"All the ups and downs we've had. It's such a thrill as a coaching staff to watch them play, especially the way they played tonight."
Senior guard April Cook, coming off the bench with her aching back, led the Cougars with 15 points. Jazmine Perkins, a senior-wing-forward-whatever the team needs at a given moment, added 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Senior forward-wing Rosie Tarnowski contributed 11 points and three of WSU's 10 3-pointers (in 20 attempts). Point guard Rosie Adzasu, a senior who played two years of junior college ball, pitched in with six points, seven assists, four rebounds, two steals and zero turnovers in 25 minutes before 2,901 spectators.
"She's grown so much as a point guard," Perkins said. "She puts in work every single day."
THE COUGARS, WHO beat sixth seed Oregon State in Wednesday's opening round for the first conference tournament victory in school history after 10 defeats, move from the Galen Center to nearby Staples Center for today's semifinals.
Staples, of course, is a basketball mecca -- the home of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, as well as the NHL's Los Angeles Kings.
WSU (13-19) takes on second-seeded California (23-8), a 68-59 winner over Colorado on Thursday. The Cougs and Bears will tip off at 2:30 and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Net.
The other semifinal game matches the second-ranked team in the nation, Stanford (29-1), and five-time defending champion, and fourth-seeded Arizona State (20-10). ROOT televises that game at noon, plus Saturday's title game at 11:30 at Staples. The men also play at Staples today and Saturday.
The Bears edged WSU, 60-55, in their only meeting Jan. 22 in Berkeley. Of course, WSU had been 0-2 against USC this season, so don't expect the Cougars to wilt this afternoon.
"We're a confident group," Daugherty said. "There's no pressure on us. That's a great position to be in."
THERE WAS NOTHING fluky about Thursday's win. The Cougars played harder and better than USC virtually all the way. WSU led 30-25 at the half and never relinquished the lead in the final 26 minutes.
"They had a little bit more intensity, a little bit more fire, a little bit more energy, a little bit more consistency," USC star Briana Galbreath said. "They looked really good out there tonight, but I wasn't surprised.
"Washington State is a team that can come out and do things like that. They played very well."
USC coach Michael Cooper, the former Lakers star, also was quite impressed with the Cougars. "They were a team that came in and played extremely well," Cooper said.
COUGAR SENIORS ARE SPECIAL:
Daugherty pointed out that Cook, Perkins and Tarnowski had scholarship offers from schools with winning programs, but chose to come to WSU. They were part of the new coaching staff's first full recruiting class four years ago.
"It took a very special young lady to come to Pullman ... they could have taken the easy way," Daugherty said.
"I took my visit to Washington State, and I just loved the campus," said Tarnowski, who hails from Philadelphia. "I loved the people. "It was the only (recruiting) visit I went on where I met the president of the university and a bunch of people who were very high up. It was pretty (obvious) that people really care about athletics and they care about their student-athletes."
|JAZMINE PERKINS: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.|
"I didn't want to go to a program that already had it going," Perkins said. "I wanted to go to a program where I could start fresh and do our thing."
Perkins, a fiery competitor, landed on the floor with a thud late in the first half after taking a hard fall. She lie writhing in pain for some time, then limped of the floor gingerly with some assistance. Soon, she was back on the floor. "I'm a Cougar. I fell, I had to get up," Perkins said.
"She's tough," Daugherty said. "I think she's left more skin on the floor than anybody I've ever seen in my life in basketball."
The Cougars came into the game ranked last in the Pac-12 with 36.6 percent shooting from the field, but they shot 45 percent and held the Trojans to a frosty 26 percent.
"I think maybe we saved up our offense until the end of the season," Daugherty joked.
The Trojans outrebounded WSU by 15, but the Cougars forced 17 turnovers (they lead the Pac-12 in forced tunovers) and outscored USC 22-8 in points off turnovers.
Daugherty said she believes USC deserves to go to the NCAA tournament. The Trojans hope to receive an invitation, but Cooper acknowledged that Thursday's loss may have ended his team's season, since they're not interested in returning to the Women's NIT. USC lost in the WNIT title game last year.
|COUGAR WOMEN CELEBRATE BIG WIN OVER TROJANS.|