Women's Basketball Takes On Saint Martin's For a Sunday Exhibition
PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State women's basketball team unofficially kicks off the 2021-22 season this Sunday, Oct. 24, as the Cougars host Saint Martin's for an exhibition contest. Tip-off from Beasley Coliseum is set for 2 p.m. PT.
WASHINGTON STATE (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. Saint Martin's (0-0, 0-0 GNAC) | Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021 | 2 p.m. | Beasley Coliseum
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>> Sunday's game against Saint Martin's will be free to all fans. 2021-22 season tickets are now on sale for the Washington State women's basketball season. Packages start at $39 and can be purchase by clicking the link here. Washington State kicks off the regular season Nov. 9, when the Cougars host San Jose State.
>> Washington State opens its fourth season under the direction of head coach Kamie Ethridge. The Cougars have improved their win total in each season under Ethridge, as WSU won 12 games a season ago. The Cougs are coming off their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 30 seasons, as the Cougars earned a No. 9 seed in last season's tournament.
>> The Cougars return heap of experience from last season's NCAA Tournament team, as WSU is the only school in the Pac-12 to return five starters with 20-or-more starts last season. The Cougars return 90.01% of their scoring from a year ago, led by sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker, who is the top returning scorer in the Pac-12 Conference after averaging a WSU freshmen record 18.8 points per game in 2020-21.
>> A full slate of games are set 2021-22 season, as the Cougars will play a total of 29 regular season games, which includes of 11 non-conference contests and 18 Pac-12 Conference games. Sunday's matchup against Saint Martin's will be the first of two exhibition contests for WSU this season. Washington State is 2-0 in exhibition contests in the Ethridge Era, with the last exhibition game taking place back on Oct. 31, 2019, when the Cougs scored a 71-63 win over Beijing Normal from China.
>>Sunday's exhibition contest will be the first matchup between Washington State and Saint Martin's in either an exhibition or regular season contest. SMU, which is in Lacey, Washington, plays at the NCAA Division II in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Looking to Build on Last Year's Success
Washington State was one of the major success stories in all of women's college basketball last season, as the Cougars earned their first-ever AP Top-25 ranking and made a return trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 30 years. The Cougs will make the transition from being the hunter to the hunted this season, as WSU will not catch teams by surprise this season. Washington State is led by the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Charlisse Leger-Walker, who returns a conference-best 18.8 points per game from a season ago. Leger-Walker is one of five WSU players that started all 24 games last season, as fifth-year senior Krystal Leger-Walker, senior Ula Motuga and juniors Bella Murekatete and Johanna Teder all return to the fold for Coach Ethridge's squad.
A total of five WSU women's basketball players represented their home country in a FIBA tournament during the offseason. The New Zealand sister duo of Krystal Leger-Walker and Charlisse Leger-Walker played for the Tall Ferns at the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup in Jordan, helping New Zealand finish fifth at the event. Sophomore Jessica Clarke and freshman Tara Wallack suited up for Canada at the U19 FIBA World Cup in Hungary, where they helped the Canucks finish fifth. Bella Murekatete represented her home country of Rwanda at the 2021 FIBA Women's Basketball Afrobasket Zone V qualifier, where she guided her homeland to the semifinals.
Sister Act II
Washington State's Kiwi sister duo of Krystal Leger-Walker and Charlisse Leger-Walker took the Pac-12 by storm last season, as they guided the Cougars back to the NCAA Tournament in their first year on the Palouse. Krystal led the conference in total assists last season with 109, while Charlisse ended the regular season as the Pac-12's leader in total points with 434.
This season will be a little different as the best kept secret in the Pac-12 last season is out now. Charlisse is the league's top returning scorer at 18.8 points per game, while Krystal is the league's top returner in assists after averaging 4.5 helpers per game last season.
Hitting the Glass
Senior Ula Motuga and junior Bella Murekatete were efficient in the rebounding category last season, as WSU's post duo finished inside the top-10 of the Pac-12 in rebounding last season. Motuga led the Cougs in rebounding last season, as she pulled down 6.79 caroms per game, while Murekatete was closely behind at 6.71 board per contest last season. Washington State was one of two Pac-12 schools (California) to have two players finish inside the top-10 in rebounding a season ago.
She Plays Defense as Well
Charlisse Leger-Walker's scoring prowess has put her name in the headlines, but she is just as good of a defensive player as she is an offensive threat. The younger Leger-Walker sister averaged 2.25 steals per game last season, which is the second-best average for a returning Pac-12 player this season. The guard led Washington State in steals last season, as she collected a total of 54 swipes.
Scouting Saint Martin's
Like the rest of the college basketball landscape, Saint Martin's is coming off a shortened 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Saints were limited to just 15 games last season, going 7-6 along the way.
Junior Claire Dingus is the Saint's top returner after the Spokane Valley native averaged a double-double last season with 17.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game a season ago. Dingus shot a blistering 55.9% from the field, while included a 45.8% success rate from behind the arc and had three double-doubles on the year. Dingus scored double-digits in all but two games last season. Senior Tierney DeDonatis is SMU's other returning double-digit scorer after the guard averaged 11.1 points per game last season and hit a team-best 23 shots from behind the arc.
As a team, the Saints averaged 68.8 points per game a year ago, while shooting 41.8% from the field. Saint Martin's held a plus-3.7 margin in rebounds last season, while averaging 38.3 caroms per game as a team. Defensively, SMU allowed its opposition to 64.0 points per game, while limiting foes to a 39.6 field goal percentage.
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