A Banner Night for the Cougs in Season-Opening Win over San Jose State
PULLMAN, Wash. – It was a banner night for the Washington State women's basketball team in its 2021-22 season opener against San Jose State, as the Cougars cruised to an 86-56 win over the Spartans Tuesday, Nov. 9, in Beasley Coliseum.
In an evening where the program raised their first NCAA Tournament banner in 30 years to commemorate last season's remarkable run to the big dance, the Cougs strung together one of their most efficient offensive performances in the Ethridge Era. Washington State shot 55.2% from the field in the win over SJSU, as the Cougars scored 58 points in the paint in the season opener. Washington State also posted a 47-27 edge on the board, which led to 15 second-chance points for the Cougs.
Junior Bella Murekatete led the way for WSU against the Spartans, as the 6-3 post scored a career-high 22 points. The forward shot 64.7 percent (11-of-17) from the field and pulled down seven rebounds in the win in 24 minutes of action. The center from Rwanda also swatted a game-best three shots.
Murekatete was one of two Cougs to score 20-plus points in the season-opening win, as sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker also tallied 22 points. The guard from Waikato, New Zealand hit a team-best three 3-point field goals in the victory, while she dished out six assists and collected three steals. Senior Ula Motuga also posted double-digit points in the victory, as the Logan, Australia native collected 11 points. Motuga and fellow Aussie, junior Emma Nankervis, tied for the team lead in rebounds, as each player pulled down nine caroms each on Tuesday.
WSU jumped out to a 12-4 lead midway through the first quarter, with the Cougars rolling off six-straight points to force SJSU into a timeout. Miscues by the Cougs would allow the Spartans to cut their deficit to four points at 19-15 after 10 minutes of play. San Jose State stayed hot to open the second quarter, as they took a brief 23-22 at the 6:48 mark. Washington State responded by scoring seven-straight points to take a 29-23 lead heading into the media timeout. The Cougs continued to pounce on the Spartans out of the media break, as WSU hit each of its last five shots in the frame to take a 39-29 lead into the locker room.
The Cougars extended their double-digit lead to 19 points to open the third quarter, as they scored the first nine points out of the break. Washington State never looked back from that point, building a 35-point lead over San Jose State in the fourth quarter before claiming the 30-point season-opening victory over the Spartans.
Head Coach Kamie Ethridge on the Season-Opening Victory
"I'm just excited to be playing. I don't think it was a perfect game from our standpoint. You saw a team that forced things and that was just some first-game jitters. And honestly, I don't think we executed well on either side of the court. It was good to get to half and see what our team could do after we got them a bit more focused on the defensive end and taking care of the basketball. What you saw in the second half is, what I thought, was a great response by a team that wasn't happy with how they played in the first half."
The Cougars will be back in Beasley Coliseum this Friday, Nov. 12, when the host Northern Arizona. Tip-off from Pullman is set for 12 p.m. PT and will be streamed live on Pac-12 Plus.
For more information on the Washington State women's basketball team, follow @WSUCougarWBB on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
- Washington State wins its third-straight season opener with tonight's victory over San Jose State. The Cougars also move to 3-1 in season-opening contests under head coach Kamie Ethridge.
- Bella Murekatete's 22-point performance establishes a new career high in points. Her previous career-best scoring performance came back on Jan. 29, 2021 with a 17-point effort against Stanford in Beasley.
- The 22-point effort marks Murekatete's 14th career game with double-digit points.
- Charlisse Leger-Walker's 22-point effort extends her double-digit scoring streak to 10 games dating back to last season.
- Leger-Walker has now scored 20-or-more points in 13 of her 25 career games with Washington State. While the guard has now tallied double-digit points in a game for the 22nd time in her WSU career.
- Freshman Tara Wallack started for Washington State in her Cougar debut. The 6-2 guard scored nine points and pulled down five rebounds in a team-high 35 minutes of action.
- The Cougs move to 7-3 all-time vs. San Jose State and have now won seven-straight games against the Spartans.