PULLMAN, Wash. – A pair of last second shots by the Washington State women’s basketball team fell just short of their mark as No. 23/21 Arizona State escaped from Beasley Friday night with a 61-58 victory over the Cougs. The near miss of the upset for the Cougars (10-14, 5-8 Pac-12) cost WSU the chance to even the season series with the Sun Devils (16-8, 7-6 Pac-12) who won their second-straight contest and held onto their spot in fifth place in the conference.
Throughout the night the shorthanded Cougs outplayed the Sun Devils at their own game, hounding Arizona State on the defensive end to come up with easier opportunities on the offensive side of the ball. WSU’s constant pressure allowed the Cougs to take an early lead against the Sun Devils, even stretching the advantage to nine points midway through the second quarter. However, the aggressive play came with consequences for the Cougs as they were whistled for 11 first half fouls that put WSU’s entire front line in foul trouble. As the fouls mounted, the Sun Devils were able to take advantage and slowly chip away at the WSU lead until finally cutting it to just three at the break.
In the second half it was more of the same as WSU battled foul trouble that forced the Cougs to pull back on their defensive efforts allowing the Sun Devils to pick their spots and create more open looks. Even with the whistles, the Cougs were able to keep pushing culminating with a three from sophomore Alexys Swedlund with 3:02 to play in the third quarter that gave WSU a five-point advantage, its largest lead of the second-half. Unfortunately for WSU, the three-ball from Swedlund would be the last basketball of the period for the Cougars as ASU finished the quarter on a 7-0 run that put them ahead by two heading into the fourth.
The battle would continue to rage in the fourth quarter with the two sides trading punches and leads four times in the frame. The final lead for the Cougs would come with 4:31 to play in the game on a layup by Swedlund who finished the night with a team-best 14 points. A runner by ASU’s all-american Sophie Brunner would flip the lead for the final time with 2:05 to go in the contest as the Cougs could not get back over the hump with the Sun Devils sealing the deal from the line.
Offensively, Swedlund finished the game as the lone Coug to reach double-digits in the scoring column as she came up with her 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting including hitting a pair from distance. Freshman Kayla Washington ended her night with nine points while junior Pinelopi Pavlopoulou and redshirt-sophomore Nike McClure each added eight points. McClure, playing in a shoulder brace, came up with a team-best eight rebounds to go with one block and two steals.
The Sun Devils put three in double-figures with Sabrina Haynes scoring a game-high 17. She scored 15 of her 17 in the second half including eight in the fourth quarter alone. Quinn Dornstauder, the beneficiary of the Cougars’ front line foul trouble, ended her night with 12 points and 11 rebounds while Robbi Ryan added 10 points. Overall, the Sun Devils finished 13-of-22 from the line and 23-of-58 from the floor while the Cougs shot just 12 free throws, hitting seven, while going 24-of-65 from the field.
Overall, the Cougs held the lead for over 28 minutes of the contest and never trailed by more than a single possession yet in the end found themselves on the wrong side of another close loss. The three-point defeat for WSU was its sixth loss of the season in games decided by a single possession or in overtime.
Washington State will try to stave off a repeat of their trip to Arizona earlier in the year as the look to knot up the season-series with the Wildcats of Arizona Sunday afternoon at Beasley. The game is scheduled for 11 a.m. on the PAC-12 Network.