Washington State saw its perfect Pac-12 Conference record slip to 5-1 after the University of Utah scored the go-ahead basket with two seconds remaining to beat the Cougars 59-57 at Beasley Coliseum Sunday.
Washington State fell to 11-7 overall and 5-1 in conference play while Utah improved to 8-9 overall and 1-5 in conference. The Cougars, playing without their second-leading scorer Lia Galdeira (18.6 ppg) who sat out due to soreness, shot 40 percent from the floor and 5-of-15 from behind the arc. Utah shot over 54 percent in the second half and finished 13-of-21 from the free throw line while WSU Went 6-of-9.
Junior guard Tia Presley led the Cougars with 13 points and senior forward Sage Romberg added 12. Sophomore guard Taylor Edmondson started in place of Galdeira and finished with eight points and three assists. Sophomore forward Mariah Cooks added seven points, six rebounds and three assists. Forward Michelle Plouffe led the Utes with 17 points and 10 rebounds after hit the eventual game-winner.
WSU’s 5-1 start to Pac-12 play matches the best start in program history through the first six conference games (1970-71, 1972-73, 1973-74, 1977-78, 1978-79).
Washington State answered Utah’s three straight 3-pointers to open the game with two from Romberg and later used a 15-5 run to take a 15-13 run after two layups from Presley.
Both teams traded runs for much of a sluggish first half and the Cougars received jumpers from Cooks and Romberg to close half, sending WSU into the break down two, 27-25. Presley and Romberg each finished the half with eight points as Washington State was held to 34 percent shooting.
The Utes opened the second half with two quick baskets and later grew its lead to eight after an 8-2 stretch. The Cougars responded with a 9-1 run as senior forward Hana Potter got things going with a rebound putback. Cooks followed with a runner off the glass, Presley connected on her own runner in the lane, Dheensaw hit a free throw and Edmondson capped the run with a jumper, tying things up at 36 at the 11:52 mark.
Sophomore guard Dawnyelle Awa gave the Cougars its first lead since early in the first half with a three at the 10:15 mark. The lead grew to four following a jumper from Edmondson and another three from Awa. WSU pushed its lead up to seven with 5:04 left after Dheensaw’s setback jumper and Presley’s acrobatic layup and free throw after she was fouled on the play.
Following a Romberg baseline jumper, the Utes began their comeback with six straight points to even things up at 53 with 1:53 remaining. Then both teams traded baskets over the final 90 seconds before a replay review of Presley’s shot attempt with 12 seconds left was ruled to not have touched the rim, resulting in a shotclock violation against the Cougars, giving possession to Utah. The Utes got the ball on the next play to their leading scorer, Michelle Plouffe who hit the go-ahead layup with two seconds left. Following a timeout, WSU got the ball to Presley at midcourt who dribbled twice and got off a three from well outside the arc on the left wing but missed wide as time expired.
Washington State will hit the road for the next two weekends beginning with a trip to face the University of Oregon Friday at 7 p.m. and Oregon State University Sunday at 2 p.m.