When the Washington State women’s basketball team needed a big play Wednesday, the Cougars looked to their two stars.
Tia Presley and Lia Galdeira combined to score all 11 points for WSU in overtime, leading to a 77-73 victory over UC Riverside at Toyota Center in Kennewick.
Making layups, 3-pointers and combining on a beautiful backdoor play, the pair was unstoppable in the final five minutes to give the Cougars their fifth win in seven games.
“It’s a good win,” Presley said. “We had a tough game with them last year and they got a good win over us. We knew it was going to be a war out there. We just wanted to work hard.”
The Cougars erased a two-point deficit with 20 seconds to go when Riverside’s Simone DeCoud missed a free throw. Sage Romberg grabbed the rebound and was fouled. She calmly stepped to the line and made a pair to send the game to overtime.
Once there, it was the Tia and Lia show.
Leading 69-68, Presley saw a gap in the defense and cut to the basket. Galdeira saw her out of the corner of her eye and hit her for an assist and a three-point lead.
“I saw her coming before she even got there,” Galdeira said.
The pair practice the backdoor play all the time in practice and it paid off in overtime.
“They were a in a zone Tia read it really well and Lia was patient in reading the zone,” WSU coach June Daugherty said. “It looked easier than it was. That was a great pass in the gap.”
After Riverside tied the game on a 3-pointer by Kiara Harewood with 1:53 left, Galdeira attacked the basket on consecutive possessions getting layups each time to put WSU on top 75-71.
She hit two free throws to finish the scoring.
“I always try to pull up and go for long shots, but the coaches told me to get to the basket,” Galdeira said. “I was getting good shots, my teammates were setting good screens and getting me open.”
Galdeira had a team-high 26 points, while Presley finished with 24, 11 rebounds and four assists.
WSU heads back to Pullman today to get ready for No. 22 Gonzaga. The two teams play at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Pullman.
“We get to enjoy this win for about 10 minutes,” Daugherty said. “Obviously, it is a huge game. In the Northwest it is a big deal.”
The game against the Zags wraps up the nonleague portion of the Cougars’ schedule that was highlighted by a road victory over then-No. 10 Nebraska.
“This is a great start,” said Presley, who starred at Spokane’s Gonzaga Prep in high school. “We have a couple of really good wins in our preseason. I think our preseason has set us up better than most teams.”
WSU opens the Pac-12 schedule against Arizona State on Jan. 3 in Pullman.
“We know we’re a good ballclub,” Daugherty said. “We’re not playing on all cylinders right now. We’ve got to smooth out some things offensively and defensively. If we do that, and rebound and share the basketball, I think we can be unbeatable.”