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Cougs Open 2020-21 with the Apple Cup Series

Dec 10, 2020

SEATTLE – The Washington State women's basketball team will tip-off the 2020-21 season this Friday, Dec. 11, when the Cougars travel across the Evergreen State to take on rival Washington at the Alaska Airlines Arena. Tip-off for this Boeing Apple Cup Series contest is set for 4 p.m. PT and will be aired live on the Pac-12 Network Washington.

WASHINGTON STATE (0-0, 0-0) at Washington (3-1, 1-1) | Friday, Dec. 11 | 4 p.m. | Alaska Airlines Arena
  Live Stats | GoHuskies.com
  Watch | Pac-12 Network Washington (Elise Woodward and Ann Schatz)
  Listen | WSU IMG Radio Network (Steve Grubbs)
  Game Notes | Click Here
  Coach Ethridge Weekly Press Conference

STARTING FIVE
>> The Cougs will finally tip-off the 2020-21 season after having multiple games postponed or canceled this season due to COVID-19 guidelines and regulations. The Dec. 11 start-date marks the latest a Washington State women's basketball season has begun in the NCAA era. It is also the latest start to a Coug season in 44 years, a mark that dates back to the 1976-77 season when WSU opened against Idaho on Dec. 10. The latest start to a season in program history came during 1972, when the Cougars opened the year on Feb. 5, 1972 against Eastern Washington.

>> Washington State enters year-three under the direction of head coach Kamie Ethridge. During her first two seasons, Coach Ethridge has collected 20 wins, which are the second-most by a Washington State head coach during their first two seasons at the helm.

>> Friday's season opener against the Huskies marks the first time in WSU history that the Cougars have begun a season against their Evergreen State rivals. It is also the first time in program history that Washington State will open a season with a Pac-12 Conference game.

>> Friday's contest against Washington marks the 99th all-time meeting on the hardwood between the two. While the Huskies hold the 74-24 advantage series, the Cougars have won four of the last six meetings. WSU is 3-1 against UW in the Ethridge Era, picking up a 66-59 come-from-behind victory in Seattle during their last meeting back on Jan. 11, 2020. Friday's game is the first of two Boeing Apple Cup Series contests this season between the Cougars and the Huskies. The second Boeing Apple Cup Series game is slated for Feb. 28 in Pullman.

>> Washington State will be seeking its third-straight road victory over the Huskies on Friday. It has been over 45 years since WSU has captured three-straight wins over UW in Seattle. The last time the Cougars won three-consecutive games against Washington in the Emerald City came on Feb. 20, 1975 with a 58-33 victory to cap off a three-game winning streak that began on Feb. 23, 1974.

The Returning Cougs
Junior Ula Motuga leads the group of WSU returnees, as the Logan, Australia native brings back a team-best 7.2 points per game from a season ago. The 6-0 forward came on late last season, as she recorded double-digit points in four of her final six games. Motuga is also the team's top returner in assists, averaging 2.3 helpers per game a season ago.

Sophomore Bella Murekatete is looking to take the next step in her development in 2020-21. The 6-3 center returners a team-best 4.1 rebounds per game from a year ago, and averaged 5.2 points per game as a true freshman. The first-known Rwandan-born NCAA Division I women's basketball player shot 51.5% from the floor last season, which was the 10th-best field goal percentage by a WSU freshman in program history.

Washington State returns a lot of familiar faces, but not a lot of production from a season ago. Despite returning nine players and three starters, WSU will be looking to replace 64.9% of their scoring and 46.1% of their rebounding. The loss in production is due in large part to the graduation of the program's all-time leading scorer Borislava Hristova and the do-it-all guard Chanelle Molina.

Dependable Levy
Junior Shir Levy has been a cornerstone for the Washington State women's basketball program over the last two seasons, as the Ness Ziona, Israel native has appeared in 61 games with 47 starts. She is the only WSU player to have played in every game coached under Kamie Ethridge at Washington State.

The New Cougs
Washington State will have five newcomers – three freshmen, two transfers – on the roster this season. Redshirt senior guard Krystal Leger-Walker will step onto the court for the first time for Washington State in 2020-21 after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. The 5-9 guard comes to Pullman after spending her first three seasons at Northern Colorado. Leger-Walker started 87 games for the Bears and guided them to the 2018 NCAA Tournament after winning the Big Sky Conference. The point guard comes to the Palouse with 564 career points and 378 career assists at the NCAA Division I level. She averaged a career-best 8.9 points per game and dished out a career-high 148 assists in her last full season on the court back in 2018-19.

Sophomore Johanna Teder is the other transfer on the 2020-21 roster, as she comes to the program from South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. The 5-8 guard from Tartu, Estonia averaged 13.6 points per game over her final nine contests at SPC to earn first-team all-conference honors.

A trio of freshmen have made their way to Pullman during the offseason. Charlisse Leger-Walker, the younger sister of Krystal, brings in a heap of top-level International experience. She is the youngest player to ever play for the New Zealand Senior Women's National Team, suiting up for the Tall Ferns at just 16 years old.  

6-3 post player Jessica Clarke, who was ranked as the fifth-best Canadian prospect in her class, and Ekin Celikdemir, a 5-10 guard from Istanbul, Turkey, also bring a heap of international-level experience to the Cougs.

A United Nations of Cougs
Once again, the Washington State women's basketball roster will have a heavily international influence in 2020-21. The Cougars have 13 players from eight different countries on this year's roster. Those countries include the United States (4), Australia (2), New Zealand (2), Canada (1), Estonia (1), Israel (1), Rwanda (1) and Turkey (1).

Cougs in Season-Openers
Washington State will be seeking its second-straight season-opening victory on Friday, after the Cougars knocked off Pepperdine, 85-48, in last year's season-opener in Beasley Coliseum on Nov. 5. WSU is 23-27 all-time in season-opening games and 5-16 in season openers on the road. WSU is 1-1 in a season-opening contests under head coach Kamie Ethridge.

Scouting the Huskies
Washington comes into Friday's matchup having already played four games this season. UW holds a 3-1 mark on the year and an even 1-1 record in Pac-12 games. The Huskies recently spilt their first two league games of the season last weekend, capturing an 80-53 win at Cal on Friday, before suffering an 83-50 loss vs. No. 1-ranked Stanford in Las Vegas on Sunday.

As a team, UW is averaging 67.0 points per game on a 40.5% team field goal percentage. Freshman Tameiya Jones has made quite the impact, as the 5-8 guard leads Washington in scoring – 16.0 pgg – and rebounding – 5.8 rpg – through the team's first four game. Jones earned the first Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors this season, after scoring a combined 35 points in wins over San Diego State and BYU in her debut week. Sophomore Quay Miller is the only other double-digit scorer for the Huskies at 10.5 ppg, but UW has five players that are currently averaging between 7.5-to-5.0 points per game.

Defensively, teams are shooting 40.1% from the floor against Washington. The Huskies are holding teams to just 27.4% from behind-the-arc, allowing 23 3-point field goals on the year. Rebounding has been an issue for UW so far this season, giving up 37.0 caroms per contest to the opposition.

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