Lia Galdeira is leading the charge for the Washington State women’s team
Cougars take a 3-0 mark in the Pac-12 into their rematch with Washington
Seattle Times staff reporter
Washington State @ Washington, 3 p.m., Pac-12
How much ending Washington’s 36-game winning streak against Washington State mattered to the Cougars’ Lia Galdeira can be summed up in how she celebrated after her historic victory Tuesday.
“Yeah, to bed,” she said.
The Hawaiian sophomore made two free throws with 15 seconds left to seal an 82-80 victory and then the Cougars rushed the court to celebrate the end of their losing streak against UW.
Cheers lingered down the corridor of Beasley Coliseum into the Cougars’ locker room, but when Galdeira emerged for postgame interviews, it was done.
Her calm demeanor was a stark contrast from last year when Galdeira and forward Mariah Cooks cried through interviews. In that game, Galdeira missed three free throws and two shots in the final minute of a 79-72 defeat against UW in Pullman — the noted 36th defeat in a row.
“That was the past and I was all in the moment,” Galdeira said of the difference.
Now, WSU (9-6, 3-0 Pac-12) plays at Washington (8-6, 1-2) on Saturday at 3 p.m. in the rematch at Alaska Airlines Arena. The Cougars haven’t won in Seattle since a 75-72 overtime decision in January 1993.
Galdeira, 5-foot-11 guard, enters the matchup playing her best basketball. She’s averaging 19 points and 2.5 steals, both ranking among the top five in the Pac-12.
“You see a big step between a freshman and a sophomore year, and she’s certainly made it,” said Washington coach Mike Neighbors. “I heard (WSU coach) June (Daugherty) talk about USA Basketball as a motivator for Lia, and you certainly can see it. She played with lots of confidence and was a handful for us to guard.”
Galdeira was a late add to a tryout for the USA Basketball’s U-19 team. UW point guard Kelsey Plum made the squad, winning gold at the world championships.
Not being selected changed Galdeira’s preparation for this season because she felt she should have been on that team. But after a tough nonconference schedule in which WSU went 6-6, another tweak was needed.
Daugherty put the team through two-a-day practices after the Christmas break.
The isolated work during winter break resulted in what Daugherty described as a “brilliant” game from Galdeira in an upset against then-No. 24 Arizona State to open Pac-12 play. She finished with 27 points in the 85-78 victory.
Against UW, Galdeira scored 13 of her game-high 28 points in the second half.
If the newfound consistency continues, WSU could find itself back in Seattle in March for the opening two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
• Washington center Katie Collier suffered a head injury Tuesday. She was at practice Friday and is a game-time decision.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org