Women's Basketball's Upset Bid over No. 8 Oregon Falls One-Shot Short
PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State women's basketball team nearly brought the nation's longest winning streak to an end against No. 8 Oregon Monday, Dec. 21. However, the Cougar's potential game-tying shot missed its mark, as the Ducks narrowly escaped Beasley Coliseum with a 69-65 win over WSU.
Washington State, who was coming off its first win against a ranked opponent in four seasons, nearly made it back-to-back wins over a ranked-foe. The Cougs led the defending Pac-12 champions for over 31 minutes in the contest, but found themselves trailing the Ducks, 67-65, with :21 remaining. WSU elected to go for the win out of a timeout, and got an open-look from behind-the-arc in the left corner with :06 on the clock. The potential game-winning shot drew back iron and Oregon was able to corral in the rebound with just a second remaining to seal the win.
With the loss, Washington State falls to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in Pac-12 play. Meanwhile for Oregon, Monday's victory extends the NCAA's longest current winning streak to 26 games. The Ducks improve to 7-0 for the 2020-21 season and 5-0 in Pac-12 play.
Freshman Charlisse Leger Walker enjoyed her third 20-point performance over her last four contests with an even 20 points against the Ducks. The freshman hit a career-high four 3-point field goals and added four assists to her stat line against the No. 8-ranked team in the nation.
Leger-Walker was one of four Cougs to tally double-digit points against the No. 8-ranked team. Junior Ula Motuga and freshman Jessica Clarke each scored 11 points. Clarke made an impact in limited action off the bench, scoring 11 points and pulling down five rebounds in 15 minutes of action. Redshirt senior Krystal Leger-Walker rounded out WSU's quartet of double-digit scorers with 10 points, while handing out a team-best five assists.
The Cougs pounced on the Ducks early in the first quarter, as WSU hit three 3-point field goals in the opening-frame to jump out to a 20-14 advantage. The 20 points scored by the Cougars marked a season-best for an opening quarter, meanwhile, it was also the most points that UO has allowed in any frame this season. Washington State stayed hot behind-the-arc in the second stanza and led 32-24 at the 2:55 mark after a Charlisse Leger-Walker 3-pointer. Oregon chipped away at the Cougar lead and pulled within a basket at 34-32 with less than 30-seconds in the half, but sophomore Johanna Teder knocked down a 3-point field goal right before the buzzer to give Washington State a 37-32 lead to go into the locker room.
Washington State got back-to-back baskets from sophomore Bella Murekatete to open the third quarter to extend its lead to a game-high nine points, 41-32. From that point, Oregon went on a 17-7 run to take a one-point lead at 49-48 with less than a minute remaining in the frame. Freshman Jessica Clarke's put-back gave Washington State a 50-49 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Neither team led by more than four-points over the game's final 10 minutes. WSU held a three-point lead at 58-55, but Oregon's Erin Boley erased that with a 3-pointer at the top of the key with 3:41 left to play. Murekatete hit a pair of free throws at the 1:46 mark to break a 60-60 tie, but the Ducks responded with back-to-back three-pointers to retake a 66-62 lead they would never relinquish.
Washington State defense came as advertised so far during the 2020-21 season, as they held Oregon to 17 points below their season scoring average. WSU forced Oregon into 16 turnovers, which led to a 19-11 advantage in points off turnovers for the Cougs.
Coach Ethridge on Today's Game: "I'm excited about our team, and excited about this performance. I'm proud at how hard we competed and how well we played. But on the other hand, I'm disappointed that we couldn't pull it off. I love the fact we had a chance to win the game, and overall, I think we're showing that we're not a fluke team. I think we're solid in a lot of areas of the game, and the fact we went toe-to-toe with Oregon kind of proves that. It really makes us excited for the rest of the season."
- The loss snaps the Cougs three-game winning streak.
- Charlisse Leger-Walker led the Cougars in scoring for the third time in four games this season with 20 points in Monday's loss against the Ducks. It is also her third 20-plus point performance of the year.
- Freshman Jessica Clarke's 11 points and five rebounds are a career-high for the North Vancouver, Canada native.
- The 10 points score by Krystal Leger-Walker marks a new WSU-best in points. The point guard's five assists also establish a new personal-best at Washington State.
- Washington State has now hit eight 3-point field goals in back-to-back contests.
- The 17 assists for WSU in today's loss marks a new season-high
- The Cougs stayed hungry on the offensive glass against Oregon, as they outrebounded the Ducks in offensive rebounds, 15-14.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Cougs, as they're set to battle Eastern Washington less than 24-hours after battling the Ducks. Tip-off from Beasley Coliseum is set for 12 p.m. PT and will be streamed live on Pac-12 Plus.
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