CouGals' celebration 23 years in the making

IT IS A short turnaround as the Cougars open the WNIT Wednesday at Montana at a to-be determined time. But Washington State women's basketball coach June Daugherty, who met with the media for a teleconference before finding out her team's postseason opponent on Monday night, did not mind.

"We have airplanes, so it's no big deal," said June Daugherty, adding that her team could play anytime between Wednesday and Friday.

This marks the first postseason berth for WSU (17-16) since 1991. In spite of that, Daugherty said the team was "disappointed" that they were not selected to the NCAA Tournament.

"They're excited to go out to win the WNIT championship and maybe show that they missed out on having a great team like Washington State in the NCAAs," said Daugherty, whose team enjoyed a meal together while watching the selection process.

Daugherty said standout guard Lia Galdeira, who was hampered by a hand injury during the Pac-12 Tournament, is back to full health.

"She has practiced all week and the X-rays were negative," Daugherty said. "She looked great and will be ready to go."

Daugherty said Galdeira and others have rested more frequently since the Cougars played three consecutive games during the Pac-12 Tournament. During the Cougars' 70-60 loss March 8 against Oregon State in Seattle, WSU shot just 32.5 percent from the field.

"We gauged everything on our recovery from the Pac-12 Tournament," Daugherty said.

But before that setback, the Cougars defeated Oregon and upset California.

"I think everyone is excited to see this team continue to play," Daugherty said. "We're playing our best basketball right now."

In particular, Daugherty said she was happy that seniors — forward Hana Potter and guard/forwards Sage Romberg and Brandi Thomas — were able to experience this.

"It's a great reward for them in particular," she said.

It has been an arduous process. Entering this season, Daugherty had a 56-129 overall record and was 26-82 in conference play during her first six seasons with the Cougars. She expressed gratitude that fans and alumni have stuck with the program during the rebuilding process.

"It's been a lot of work," Daugherty said. "It's been a lot of battles in recruiting. I'm just so happy for our alumni. Our fans have stuck with us through some thin times.

"We're really proud to represent Washington State in this championship."

NOTABLE NOTE:
  • Daugherty said advancing to the postseason should benefit the program's recruiting. She added that prospective athletes will be able to visualize playing with Galdeira and junior guard Tia Presley.

    "It's so positive," she said. "This is a talented team. People want to play with the kids that are here."

    "It's a great step for recruiting. It will continue to help us."

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