Washington State University's comeback attempt fell short to the visiting University of Wisconsin, 52-44 at Beasley Coliseum Sunday afternoon.
The Cougars (1-3) used a 19-4 run to erase an 18-point second half deficit but Wisconsin (2-1) converted some late free throws to escape Pullman with a victory. WSU held the Badgers to 30.2 percent shooting and forced them into 22 turnovers but also struggled shooting, finishing the game 27.3 percent from the floor and 0-for-8 from three.
Freshman guard Lia Galdeira continued the impressive start to her collegiate career with a game-high 15 points and six steals after going 9-of-11 at the free throw line. Senior center Carly Noyes followed her career-high 24-point effort against Monmouth Saturday with 14 points against a physical Wisconsin defense.
Both teams struggled shooting in the first half as the Badgers shot 27.8 percent and the Cougars hit 20 percent of their field goal attempts. WSU forced 10 turnovers but committed 14 of their own.
Noyes led all scorers with eight points in the first 20 minutes but Badgers held a 22-15 lead at the break following two different 6-0 runs. Noyes brought WSU within four in the closing minutes with jumpers from the baseline and the top of the key but Wisconsin answered with an old-fashioned three-point play to take a seven-point advantage into the half.
The Badgers opened the second half with eight straight points and followed with two WSU buckets with another 7-0 run to open up a 37-19 lead at the 12:01 mark.
With their shots unable to fall, the Cougars turned their focus to the defensive end and received a spark from its guards. Galdeira, sophomore Tia Presley and freshman Dawnyelle Awa all led the WSU defensive charge that produced a 19-4 run over the next seven minutes.
Following a layup by Galdeira, the freshman from Hawaii ignited the run with a pair of steals that resulted in her made two free throws and a baseline jumper from Noyes. Galdeira again recorded steals on the Wisconsin's next two possessions and she was able to finish both off with coast-to-coast layups that cut the Badger lead to eight.
Awa got into the action with a layup and Galdeira followed with another steal and two free throws. A little over a minute later, Galdeira knocked down three free throws that capped the run and brought WSU within three with 4:54 to go.
Wisconsin went back up by five with a basket but another jumper from Noyes and a steal and coast-to-coast layin by Presley brought the Cougars within one. Presley made another steal on the ensuing possession and later gave WSU a 44-43 lead with two free throws with 1:37 remaining.
The Badgers regained the lead with free throws then got a stop before corralling a rebound on its own air ball and quickly went back up for a layin before the shot clock expired that proved to be a big momentum shift. Down by four, the Cougars missed a couple free throws and were forced to foul, allowing Wisconsin to seal the game at the free throw line.
Washington State will close out its three-game homestand hosting BYU next Saturday at 3 p.m. The WSU men's team will follow that game with a 6:30 p.m. matchup against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
WSU nearly matched its largest comeback victory in program-history, a 75-72 overtime win at Washington Jan. 9, 1993 after trailing by 18.