USC women’s basketball made a national splash and vaulted itself into the NCAA Tournament conversation with its upset of Stanford, the current Pac-12 colossus. The Trojans’ first game since that huge shocker is an important one at Washington State on Friday night in Pullman. It’s a bubble battle between two teams fighting for NCAA Tournament positioning. They both have a good chance of making it, but the winner obviously gets more leverage heading into late January.
We wanted to talk to a Washington State women’s basketball expert about USC’s next opponent. Jeff Nusser, who formerly wrote for Coug Center and closely follows WSU athletics, was kind enough to join us.
We asked Jeff for a primer on this Washington State women’s basketball team. Here was Jeff’s answer:
“I think it’s hard for those outside the WSU bubble to realize just how incredible the Cougars’ turnaround under (coach Kamie) Ethridge has been,” Nusser told us. “WSU truly was the worst of the worst in terms of Pac-12 women’s basketball programs – just unbelievably dreadful. They made some strides under previous coach June Daugherty, but Ethridge has taken it to a level not seen before in program history: The Cougs have been in back-to-back NCAA tournaments and are on track for a third straight appearance after making only one tournament appearance in the prior 40 years.
“Ethridge’s Cougs are tough, both physically and mentally. They are simply relentless on the floor, even if sometimes it’s not the most beautiful basketball. They’ll pressure on defense to try and create havoc, and they’ll crash the offensive glass. Most of all, they never seem to be bothered by the game state; they have had a habit this year of falling behind early, only to surge to victory in the second half. Sunday’s game against Oregon was a perfect example: They improbably coughed up a big 4th-quarter lead on the road as Oregon went unconscious from deep, went to overtime, and then still won despite their best frontcourt player having fouled out.”
USC-Washington State is Friday night at 10 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Pacific.
As a thank-you to Jeff for giving of his time to help us preview the Washington State game, you can donate to the Cougs Feeding Cougs Fund at Washington State University, using this link.