WSU's Season ends with a loss to Georgia Tech 69-61 in WNIT Fina - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

WSU's Season ends with a loss to Georgia Tech 69-61 in WNIT Final Four

Courtesy: WSU Athletics Courtesy: WSU Athletics

By WSU Athletics

ATLANTA, Ga. - After putting together a magical run to reach the semifinals of the Women's National Invitational Tournament the Washington State women's basketball team saw their Cinderella run come to an end in Atlanta as the Cougs suffered a 69-61 loss to Georgia Tech Wednesday night. The loss for the Cougs (16-20) put an end to their run in the postseason and an end to a hard-fought 2016-17 season full of trials and tribulations. The win moved the Yellow Jackets (22-14) into the WNIT finals where they will face Michigan for the 2017 title. Georgia Tech will hit the road for the championship game after playing their first five games in the WNIT in the friendly confines of McCamish Pavilion.

As she had done all tournament long, sophomore Alexys Swedlund led the way offensively for the Cougs as the second-year gunner scored a game-high 21 points in 37 minutes. The single-season record holder for three-pointers finished her final game as a sophomore by going 5-for-11 from deep to run her record to 75 on the year. In addition, the 21 points marked the third-straight game with 20+ points for Swedlund giving her seven on the year, the fourth most for any sophomore in Coug history. 

Swedlund did her damage in spurts through the first three quarters of action including scoring 10-straight for the Cougs midway through the third quarter as WSU pulled ahead of the Yellow Jackets by 11 at 54-43 with 3:49 left in the period. Unfortunately for the Cougs, the run by Swedlund would tap the well as the shots stopped falling and GT got out and ran to turn the game in the Yellow Jackets favor. For 10 minutes of game time the Cougs could not get anything to fall as the Yellow Jackets went on an 18-0 run before senior Ivana Kemetovska hit a turnaround floater with 3:48 to play in the game for the Cougs' first points of the fourth quarter. The scoring drought had enabled the Yellow Jackets to take a seven-point lead at 61-54 before the Cougs got back on the scoreboard. From there, the Yellow Jackets held off the Cougs, never letting WSU within a single possession before closing things out with a pair of free throws from Zaire O'Neil.

O'Neil was able to control the paint for the Yellow Jackets as she finished the game with 20 points and 16 rebounds, nine of which came on the offensive end of the floor. The Yellow Jackets were able to flip the Cougars' usual script on them in the game as GT was plus-15 on the boards in the game including grabbing 20 offensive rebounds that led to 16 second-chance points and a 40-20 scoring advantage in the paint. The advantage on the glass kept the Yellow Jackets from getting buried by the Cougs' outside shooting as WSU went 8-of-15 from deep in the first three quarters before missing their final seven. Alongside of O'Neil, Elo Edeferioka came up with 16 rebounds and 11 points to post her own double-double while Francesca Pan and Imani Tilford posted 14 and 12 points, respectively. 

In addition to the rebound edge, the Yellow Jackets held a nearly 4-to-1 advantage in free throw attempts in the game as GT shot 25 to the Cougs' seven on eight Yellow Jacket fouls despite Georgia Tech entering the game with the third highest foul rate in all of Division I. 

Outside of Swedlund, the Cougs put one other player in double-figures as Caila Hailey ended her game with 10 points to go with five assists and three rebounds. Hailey finished her junior season on an offensive tear having scored in double-figures in 10 of her last 12 games. Fellow junior Pinelopi Pavlopoulou finished her season just short of 10 points as she came up with seven in the game but also added a team-best eight rebounds to go with six assists.

In her final collegiate game, Kmetovska scored eight points to go with five rebounds and a career-best three blocks.

The Cougars will head into the offseason with high hopes for the 2017-18 season in which the team graduates just one senior in Kmetovska. In addition to returning the bulk of the team that made the Cougs' first-ever postseason run, WSU will also get back its mash unit of injured players that accounted for 42.6 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 6.3 apg, 3.5 spg before suffering season-ending injuries.

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