January 31, 2015

Cardinal cleans up act and conquers Cougars

The Cardinal's second victory of the season over the Cougars was considerably easier than the first one.

Cardinal play was sometimes sloppy in the first half as Cougar pressure caused way too many turnovers. But the Cardinal didn't let the game get away from them. They never fell behind by more than three and went into the locker room trailing by just two points.

Tara wouldn't reveal (at the postgame Behind the Bench session) exactly what she said to the team at halftime, but it was clearly good advice. The Cardinal started the second half with a 6-0 run.

June Daugherty called a timeout, after which the Cougars ended the Cardinal run with a three-pointer by Tia Presley. But the Cardinal were still ahead by one and kept the lead all the way to the end — to a 75-56 victory.

Amber led the Cardinal offense this afternoon with 15 points on 50% shooting. Although she had six of the Cardinal's 18 turnovers, she matched those with six assists and two steals. Tara said, "I never know who's going to step up for a given game, but I know that Amber always does."

Bird was close behind in the scoring with 14 points on 60% shooting. She also grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots.

Three other Cardinal scored in double digits – Bri (11), Lili (10) and Karlie (10).

The Cardinal continued their careful shooting at the line. They made 73% of their free throws (16 of 22).

Cardinal defense held the Cougars to 31% shooting from the field, well below their season average of 39%. Lili's tight guarding held Tia Presley, the third-best scorer in the Pac-12, to just four points (that 3-pointer early in the second half and a free throw). Amber's defense held Lia Galdeira, the second-best scorer in the Pac-12, to 16 points (just short of her season average).

The Cardinal dominated the boards, 47-30, partly due to the absence of Cougar center Shalie Dheensaw, who suffered a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago. Kaylee led all rebounders with eleven, six of them O-boards, in just 16 minutes of playing time. She also made three of five layups, one block and one steal.

Here are game reports and commentary:

The box score and play-by-play,

The press conference audio, with Tara, Amber and Bird,

A video interview of Amber after the Cardinal tops Washington State.

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