Cougs Knock Off No. 5/4 UCLA to Collect their First Win Over a Top-Five Foe
PULLMAN, Wash. – The list of firsts continues to grow for the Washington State women's basketball program under head coach Kamie Ethridge. The Cougars knocked off No. 5/4-ranked UCLA at Beasley Coliseum, 67-63, on Friday (Feb. 5) to give WSU its first win over a top-five ranked team in program history.
Freshman Charlisse Leger-Walker shined in the fourth quarter for the Cougs, as the Waikato, New Zealand native scored 13 of team's 15 total points in the frame to guide the Cougars to their first victory over UCLA since the 2016-17 season. The win over the Bruins gives Washington State its third triumph over a ranked opponent this season. The victory against the No. 5/4-ranked Bruins also gives WSU its second win over a top-10 team this season, marking another program first for the Cougs.
The win brings an end to a two-game skid for Washington State, as they now stand at 9-6 overall on the year and 7-6 in Pac-12 Conference play. For UCLA, they leave Pullman with a 10-3 overall record, while the No. 5/4-ranked team in the country falls to 8-3 in conference games.
Leger-Walker paved the way for WSU, as she scored a game-high 28 points on Friday. The freshman once again displayed her clutch-gene, as she sank the game-clinching 3-pointer that gave the Cougs a 64-63 lead with 0:42 remaining in the game. Leger-Walker sealed the victory for Washington State by going 3-of-4 at the free throw line in the game's closing seconds. The guard made a living at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, as she connected on 10 of her 12 free throw attempts over the final 10 minutes of play.
Redshirt senior Krystal Leger-Walker followed her sister in the scoring column with a 10-point performance, while dishing out a game-high seven assists. Sophomore Grace Sarver came off the bench and matched her career-high in points with nine. Junior Ula Motuga pulled down a game-best 10 rebounds, to go along with six points.
Charlisse Leger-Walker opened the game with a 3-point field goal, but UCLA would roll off nine-straight points after that to take an early 9-3 advantage. Washington State would pull even with the Bruins midway through the second stanza. The Cougars used a 17-5 run to take a four-point lead (33-29) with 2:26 left before halftime. UCLA closed the quarter with four-consecutive free throws to tie things up at 35-all heading into the locker room.
Washington State came out of the break motivated and held UCLA without a field goal until the 4:43 mark of the third. The Cougs went on an 11-3 run during that time to build an eight-point lead at 46-38. A Motuga layup gave WSU a game-high nine-point lead with 57 ticks left in the third, but UCLA was able to beat the buzzer with a layup of its own to cut WSU's lead to seven points heading into the fourth.
The Bruins returned the favor on the defensive end in the final quarter, as UCLA did not allow a Washington State field goal for nearly the first six minutes of the stanza. The Cougar drought allowed the Bruins to pull even at 56-56, but Motuga finally came through with a layup at the 4:19 mark to give WSU a two-point lead with 4:19 remaining in the game. UCLA went on a 5-1 spurt after the Motuga layup to retake a 61-59 lead. The younger Leger-Walker sister took the game over from that point, scoring WSU's final eight points, which included the game-clinching 3-pointer, to seal the victory.
The Cougs return to action this Sunday, Feb. 7, when they close out their current four-game homestand with a rematch against Southern Cal. Washington State will be looking to avenge an 81-77 overtime loss to the Trojans at the Galen Center back on Jan. 15. Sunday's contest against the Women of Troy is set for 12 p.m. PT and will stream for free on Pac-12 Plus via the WSU live stream.
Head Coach Kamie Ethridge on Today's Win: "I'm kind of blown away that we were able to pull it off. I'm really proud for our team We knew we had to bounce back after last week, and regrouping a young team isn't a definite. I thought they bought into growing (as a team), despite losing to these top-five and top-10 teams in recent games. I'm just so proud of this team, and I'm happy that they are able to experience beating a top-five team in the country."
- Washington State picks up its seventh Pac-12 Conference win of the season. The seven wins in league play are the most for the Cougars since the 2014-15 season, when WSU went 7-11 in league games.
- Friday's win marks just the seventh time in program history that the Cougars have won seven-or-more Pac-12 games in a season.
- The Cougs knocked off their highest-ranked opponent in program history on Friday, as UCLA entered the week ranked No. 4 in the USA Today/WBCA poll and No. 5 in the Associated Press poll.
- Washington State has now posted three wins over ranked teams in 2020-21. The last time WSU has defeated three-or-more teams ranked inside either top-25 poll in one season came during the 2013-14 campaign. The Cougars collected four wins over ranked foes that season.
- The win over UCLA ends WSU's six-game losing streak to the Bruins. Washington State's last win over UCLA came back on Jan. 6, 2017, with an 82-73 victory at Beasley Coliseum.
- Freshman Charlisse Leger-Walker's 28-point performance marks her eighth game this season with 20-or-more points. She needs one more 20-point effort to tie Borislava Hristova's WSU freshman record for most 20-point games.
- Sophomore Grace Sarver scored nine points off the bench for WSU, which ties her career-best performance in points. Sarver's first nine-point performance came back on Dec. 22, 2020 in a win over Eastern Washington.
- Junior Ula Motuga pulled down a team-best 10 rebounds in the win over UCLA. She has now pulled down double-digit caroms in four games this season.