Cougs Conclude Opening Weekend at Home against Idaho
PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State women's basketball team will take to Friel Court for the first time in the 2020-21 season this Sunday, Feb. 13, as the Cougars rekindle their regional rivalry with the Idaho Vandals. The Battle of the Palouse is set to tip at 6:30 p.m. PT from Beasley Coliseum and will be streamed live on WSUCougars.com.
WASHINGTON STATE (1-0) vs. Idaho (2-1) | Sunday, Dec. 12 | 6:30 p.m. | Beasley Coliseum
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>> Washington State comes into Sunday's Battle of the Palouse fresh-off a 60-52 season-opening victory at Washington this past Friday. The win gave the Cougs their first three-game road winning streak over the Huskies in the NCAA Era – post 1981-82 season – and marked the first time in 45 years that WSU has picked up three-consecutive wins over UW in Seattle.
>> Freshman Charlisse Leger-Walker collected an impressive 20 points in her Washington State debut this past Friday. The 20-point performance ties Leger-Walker with Francine McCurtain for the most points scored by a WSU freshman in their Pac-12 debut. McCurtain also tallied 20 points against the Huskies in her first Pac-12 game back on Dec. 21, 2001. Leger-Walker is also the sixth freshman over the last 10 years to score 20-or-more points in their Washington State debut.
>> Sunday's matchup will be the 40th installment of the Battle of the Palouse between the Cougar and Vandal women's basketball programs. Despite just being eight miles apart, it has been almost 12 years to the date since the two schools have played one another. The last meeting came on Dec. 14, 2008, when Washington State claimed a 53-50 victory in Moscow, Idaho. WSU has won two-straight games over the Vandals, and holds a 26-13 edge in the all-time series.
>> Though this will be the first time that head coach Kamie Ethridge will take on Idaho at Washington State, it won't be her first go-around against the Vandals. During her four-year tenure at Northern Colorado, Ethridge went 5-2 against Idaho, a fellow Big Sky Conference team. Her last matchup against the Vandals was a memorable one, as her Northern Colorado team defeated Idaho, 91-69, in the 2018 Big Sky Tournament Championship Game in Reno, Nevada. That victory earned UNC its first-ever Big Sky Tournament tile and NCAA Tournament berth.
>> Sunday's Battle of the Palouse will also serve as the 2020-21 home opener for Washington State. WSU is 28-9 in home openers in the program's NCAA era. The Cougs are an even 1-1 in home openers under head coach Kamie Ethridge after last season's 85-48 win over Pepperdine.
Guards Krystal Leger-Walker and Charlisse Leger-Walker made quite the impact in the backcourt for the Cougs in their WSU debuts this past Friday at Washington. The sisters from New Zealand combined to score 28 of WSU's 60 points against UW, as Charlisse tallied a team-high 20 points and Krystal logged eight points. The Leger-Walker's also combined for six of WSU's eight assists in the victory over the Huskies, as each guard dished out three assists.
Raising the Bar
Junior Ula Motuga picked up right where she left off in March by scoring a career-high 16 points in Friday's win in Seattle. The 6-0 forward also tied her career-high with two 3-point field goals against UW. Motuga has now posted double-digit points in five of her last seven games, dating back to last season.
Filling Up the Stat Sheet
Freshman Charlisse Leger-Walker had arguably one of the best debuts in WSU history in Friday's win at Washington. The guard from Waikato, New Zealand scored a team-best 20 points and added a team-high four steals in 38 minutes of action. Leger-Walker's seven rebounds against the Huskies tied for the team lead in caroms with junior Ula Motuga and sophomore Bella Murekatete. She also matched her sister, Krystal Leger-Walker, with a team-high three assists.
Friday's win over Washington marked head coach Kamie Ethridge's fourth win over the Huskies at Washington State, making her WSU's all-time winningest head coach against UW. Ethridge is now 4-1 all-time against Washington, and she has guided Washington State to two-straight victories over UW. Trips over to the Emerald City have been frugal in the Ethridge Era, as the Cougs have won all three games played in Seattle against the Huskies.
Scouting the Vandals
Idaho comes into Sunday's Battle of the Palouse with a 2-1 overall record. The Big Sky Conference preseason favorite picked up a pair of league victories over Sacramento to start the season, but more recently, lost at No. 23 Texas, 73-48, this past Wednesday.
The Vandals have a highly-potent offensive arsenal that features a quartet of double-digit scorers. Montana graduate-transfer Gabi Harrington, leads the team in scoring at 14.0 points per game, while sophomore Beyonce Bea, (13.0 ppg), freshman Sydney Gandy (12.7 ppg) and junior Gina Marxen (11.3 ppg) round out the group of double-digit scorers. As a team, Idaho is averaging 75.3 points per game, while connecting on 37.0% of their shots from the field.
Idaho comes into Sunday's matchup leading all of NCAA Division I in total rebounds at 56.0 caroms per game. Senior Natalie Klinker leads the team in rebounding at 14.3, while her 7.3 offensive boards per contest is tops at the NCAA Division I level. Defensively, the Vandals are allowing 72.0 points per contest, while teams are shooting 38.4% from the field against them.
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