Women's Basketball Hosts Northwest Nazarene in Final Exhibition Game this Friday
PULLMAN, Wash. – The final tune-up game for the Washington State women's basketball team takes place this Friday, Nov. 5, as the Cougars host Northwest Nazarene for an exhibition contest. Tip-off from Beasley Coliseum is set for 7 p.m. PT. Admission to Friday's exhibition is free to all.
WASHINGTON STATE (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. Northwest Nazarene (0-0, 0-0 GNAC) | Friday, Nov. 5, 2021 | 7 p.m. | Beasley Coliseum
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>> Washington State takes the court this Friday to play in its second, and final, exhibition contest of the 2021-22 season. The Cougs were uncaged against Saint Martin's in their first exhibition contest of the season back on Oct. 24, as WSU picked up an 89-38 victory over the Saints in Beasley Coliseum.
>> 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. Friday's matchup against Northwest Nazarene will be the first of two exhibition contests for WSU this season. Washington State is 3-0 in exhibition contests in the Ethridge Era.
>> 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.
>> Though Friday will be an exhibition game, it marks the first time that Washington State and Northwest Nazarene have played one another.
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.
Racking Up the Preseason Accolades
A trio of Washington State women's basketball players have recently earned preseason honors. The National Basketball Hall of Fame and Women's Basketball Coaches Association named Charlisse Leger-Walker to the to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award watch list, which goes to the top shooting guard in the nation, and Belle Murekatete was named to the Lisa Leslie Award watch list, which goes to the top center in the country.
In addition to her Meyers Drysdale Award watch list, Leger-Walker was named preseason All-Pac-12 by both the coaches and media. Fifth-year senior Krystal Leger-Walker was also selected to the preseason All-Pac-12 honorable mention.
Receiving Votes in National Polls
The Cougars have received votes in both the Associate Press and WBCA Coaches top-25 polls. Washington State picked up 13 votes in the WBCA Coaches Preseason Top-25 Poll, while earning nine votes in the Associated Press preseason poll.
Scouting Northwest Nazarene
Northwest Nazarene competes at the NCAA Division II in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. NNU returns 11 players from last season's team that went 7-7 in a COVID-shortened season.
Junior Erin Jenkins returns a team-best 12.9 points per game from a season ago. The swing player shot a remarkable 50.4 percent from the floor and ended last year by scoring double-digit points in 11 of her final 12 games.
As a team, NNU averaged 70.2 points per game in 2020-21 while shooting 40.7 percent from the field. Defensively, the Nighthawks were allowing the opposition to shoot 42.6 percent from the field, as they yielded 69.1 points per game.
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