SPOKANE, Wash. – Sophomore guard Tia Presley scored a game-high 15 points and freshman forward Mariah Cooks added 12 off the bench as Washington State posted a 57-51 victory over Gonzaga in front of a sold out crowd Saturday.
The Cougars improved to 4-7 overall after holding Gonzaga (10-4) to 25 percent shooting in the second half and forcing the Zags into 15 turnovers. Washington State received 20 points from its bench while Gonzaga went 7-of-17 at the free throw line.
Freshman guard Lia Galdeira brought down a team-high eight rebounds and notched 11 points while hitting three from behind the arc including a big one in the final seconds. Cooks recorded three rebounds while connecting on 6-of-8 free throw attempts including four in the final four minutes.
Gonzaga held the lead for most of the first half after recording runs of 11-0 and 9-0 to build a 26-12 advantage at the 5:57 mark. WSU settled in as Galdeira knocked down a pair of threes and the Cougars closed the half with a 6-0 spurt. Freshman guard Taylor Edmondson got things going with a layup and sophomore forward Shalie Dheensaw followed with a nice post move that resulted in a layin and Presley capped the half and cut the GU lead to 32-26 with a runner in the lane.
The Cougars started off the second half with another 6-0 spurt to tie things up at 32. Junior guard Brandi Thomas connected from the right baseline before Presley and senior center Carly Noyes each scored after grabbing rebounds.
Both teams traded buckets for the next minutes before Presley hit a three, junior forward Sage Romberg added her own three from the right wing and Presley made a steal and went coast-to-coast for a layin and a 42-37 WSU lead at the 12:23 mark.
Following a Gonzaga three, Galdeira made a play that silenced the crowd and sparked the Cougars. The Kamuela, Hawaii native grabbed a defensive rebound just outside the Gonzaga three-point line, turned and fired a pass on a line through a three Zag defenders and into the arms of a streaking Presley just inside the WSU three-point line, who finished the fast break with a layup.
Minutes later, Cooks hit a jumper to open up a seven point lead with 7:51 remaining. The Zags cut it to two after a couple free throws and bucket but Cooks hit two clutch free throws to keep it a four-point WSU advantage. Galdeira proved to be the closer in the final minute, hitting a long three with the shot clock about to expire and later hitting a pair of free throws.
Washington State opens Pac-12 Conference play next week, hosting the University of Arizona, Friday and Arizona State University, Sunday.