Cougars Rally From 16 Down To Defeat Oregon 77-76
Feb. 15, 2001
EUGENE, Ore. - It was a night of records and firsts for the Washington State women's basketball team.
It became that way thanks to Joanna Smith's putback off a Kelley Berglund miss with five-tenths of a second left in the game that gave the Cougars a remarkable 77-76 win over the Oregon Ducks Thursday night at McArthur Court.
The win improved WSU to 10-12 overall and 5-7 in the Pac-10. Oregon dropped to 12-10 overall and 5-7 in the conference.
'I'm proud of the team,' said WSU coach Jenny Przekwas. 'They hung in there when they were down and kept working to stay within striking distance.'
The winning margin for the Cougars turned out to be the team's only lead of the game. It capped a 16-point comeback by WSU, the second largest comeback in the history of the program.
The rally was made possible by a 10-of-12 performance from three-point land by the team in the second half led by Smith's four treys.
The comeback was just one of several other milestones that the Cougars achieved at Eugene.
It was the first time WSU swept a Pac-10 opponent since the 1997-98 season when the Cougars defeated California twice.
The win snapped an 18-game Pac-10 road-losing streak that dated back to the 1998-99 season.
In addition to her game-winning bucket, Smith, who finished with 14 points, captured the school's career three-point field goal record. Smith came into the Oregon game tied with Heather Norman with 133 treys.
Yvonne Volkman led WSU with her second straight 22-point effort. It was a career-high tying performance for Volkman. Her effort off-setted a 32 point performance by Oregon's Angelina Wolvert.
'(Washington State) shot the ball very well down the stretch,' said Oregon coach Jody Runge. 'They played with a lot of confidence. They're very tenacious.'
However, the win for the Cougars and the milestones that came with it seemed to be nothing but a mirage for the team during the first ten minutes of the game.
The Cougars began the contest missing 17 of their first 20 shots as the squad fell behind by a 20-8 margin at the 10:24 mark of the first half. During the first half, WSU was down by 16 points on three separate occasions.
Volkman kept the Cougars in it with 12 first half points on 6-of-12 shooting, making half of the Cougars' total field goals. While Volkman shot 50 percent from the field, the rest of the team was 6-of-28.
Down by a 42-30 margin at the half, the Cougars gradually chipped away at the Ducks' advantage, but could never seem to get over the hump.
On four occasions in the first 14 minutes of the second half, WSU moved within six points of the Ducks. But each time the Cougars got within that margin, Oregon would find a way to extend its advantage.
Finally the six-point barrier was broken when down 71-63, a Katie Nyseth trey brought the Cougars to within 71-66 with 2:17 remaining.
The three-pointer sparked a 7-0 run that was capped by a Smith three-pointer that cut Oregon's advantage to 71-70 with 1:43 remaining in the game.
After Oregon extended its lead back to 73-70, Victoria Harrod drained a trey that brought the Cougars even with Oregon at 73 with 1:10 remaining.
Two free throws by Angelina Wolvert once again gave the Ducks a two-point lead but a Brittney Hawks bucket off an assist by Katie Nyseth, who finished with eight points, once again brought the Cougars to a tie at 75 with 30 seconds remaining.
But a foul by Hawks with 10 seconds left put Oregon's Brianne Meharry to the line. Meharry missed her first attempt but made her second to give the Ducks a one-point lead at 76-75.
However, the Cougars brought the ball up the court and after Berglund missed her three-pointer attempt, Smith put the rebound back up as the ball touched nothing but the net.