Long crimson nightmare is over: CouGals win!

Shalie Dheensaw

THE HEROES were many Tuesday night in Pullman as Washington State's resurgent women's basketball team improved to 3-0 in conference play with a dramatic 82-80 victory over Washington. The win ended a 19-year Cougar drought against the Dawgs.

When it was done, the Cougars celebrated like it was, well, 1995 (the last time WSU beat UW). They hugged, hollered and hooted. Head coach June Daugherty, who piled up a mountain of those UW series wins during her 11 seasons at Montlake, took to the PA to thank the crowd and laud her players.

The win improves the Cougars to 9-6 overall. They'll be back in action Saturday against these very same Huskies when the two teams tip off in Seattle.

Washington brought a 36-game series win streak into the game but the Cougars came out firing and built a 13-point lead early in the second half behind the shooting of guard Lia Galdeira.

Alas, when WSU starting point guard Tia Presley was whistled for her third foul on a suspect call and then subsequently was teed up with a fourth for protesting, the momentum swung in titanic fashion. The Huskies proceeded to hit a barrage of treys and tied the score at 51, setting the table for a nail-biter right to the very end.

Presley sat out roughly 10 minutes of the second half, but made her presence known shortly after coming back in when she canned a long trey to put the Cougars up 76-71 with 4:10 left. She finished the game with 13 points.

Cougar center Shalie Dheensaw turned in a game for the ages, pulling down 14 rebounds, scoring 11 points and blocking two shots. She had three critical rebound-and-putbacks down the stretch, with one of those combos coming with 43 seconds left to put WSU ahead 80-78.

Galderia, meanwhile, led the way with 28 points, including what proved to be the game-winning free throws in the waning seconds. She was 11-of-23 from the field and 3-for-4 at the line. She also posted 4 steals, 4 assists and 3 rebounds.

With Presley sidelined for much of the second half, the Cougars' bench played a key role in the win, collectively scoring 20 points, and grabbing 7 rebounds and 2 assists. Senior Brandi Thomas paced group, hitting 3-of-4 from the field, including a long three-point that gave the Cougars a 66-63 lead. Mariah Cooks and Taylor Edmondson added 5 each off the bench, and Alexis Williamson 3. Hana Potter added a rebound.

Starting senior forward Sage Romberg scored 10 points, including a key bucket late, and pulled down 6 rebounds and blocked 4 shots, while sophomore Dawnyelle Awa dished 6 assists and had 3 rebounds and 3 steals.

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