PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University used a second-half comeback to post its fourth consecutive win with a 57-54 victory over the University of Southern California at Beasley Coliseum Friday.
Washington State improved to 9-13 overall and 5-6 in Pac-12 Conference play and posted its first four-game conference winning streak since 1994-95. The Cougars shot 52 percent in the second half and outscored USC (8-14, 5-6 Pac-12) 34-26 in the final 20 minutes to post its first home victory over the Trojans since 2001.
Freshman guard Dawnyelle Awa scored a career-high 11 points after hitting all three of WSU's threes and dished out five assists. Freshman guard Lia Galdeira added 10 points, eight coming in the second half, and grabbed a team-high six rebounds while redshirt-senior guard Katie Grad chipped in with seven points. WSU was outrebounded 50-30 but scored 19 points off of 14 USC turnovers and committed a season-low eight turnovers.
Southern California took an early lead with an 8-0 run behind a couple threes and later built a double-digit advantage with a 7-0 spurt midway through the half.
Late in the half, the Cougars received at three from Awa, the first of her career, and later got within two after a 7-0 stretch of their own. Following an Edmondson free throw, junior forward Hana Potter sparked WSU off the bench with a pair of buckets before freshman guard Alexas Williamson made a steal and went coast-to-coast for layin to cut the USC lead to two with 29 seconds left.
USC answered right back with a three in the closing seconds to take a 28-23 lead into the break. WSU was down five despite shooting 32.1 percent from the floor and 1-for-11 from three in the first 20 minutes.
Washington State opened the second half with an 8-3 run that tied the game at 31 after junior forward Sage Romberg hit a jumper, Awa followed with a three and Grad added three points with a driving layup and a free throw.
The pace really picked up over the next six minutes as both teams traded baskets before sophomore forward Shalie Dheensaw's jumper from the left wing gave the Cougars a 41-39 lead at the 12:21 mark, their first lead since the opening minutes of the game.
Midway through the half and following a 6-0 steak by the Trojans, Galdeira knotted things up at 47 with a jumper and added another jumper from the left elbow. Awa then followed an Edmondson free throw with her third and final three of the night that opened up a six-point WSU advantage with 2:56 to go.
With under a minute remaining, Southern California cut the Cougars lead to one, 55-54 after making one of two free throw attempts with 50 seconds on the clock. WSU then turned the ball over on its ensuing possession but USC's go-ahead jumper rolled around and off the back of the rim. The Trojans grabbed the rebound but had their putback attempt blocked by Romberg and Galdeira snatched the rebound. She was fouled and went on to hit both free throws to seal the 57-54 victory.
Washington State closes out the homestand Sunday, against No. 17/17 UCLA at Noon.