Cougs Use Strong Second Half to Defeat the Dons, 72-58
PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State women's basketball team had three players score double-digits against San Francisco, Thursday Dec. 2, as the Cougars used a stellar shooting performance over the final two quarters of play to give WSU a 72-58 win over the Dons in Beasley Coliseum.
Sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker scored a season-high 27 points to lead a trio of double-figure scorers for Washington State. The guard from New Zealand scored 16 of her 27 points in the third and fourth periods, as she helped the Cougars pull away from USF over the final 20 minutes of play. Leger-Walker shot an even 50 percent from the field (8-of-16), while connected on five of her 10 shots from behind the arc. The five 3-point field goals for Leger-Walker ties her career-high in made 3-point field goals, as it is the fourth time in her career that she has sank five shots from deep in a game.
Senior Ula Motuga and junior Bella Murekatete each flirted with a double-double in the win over San Francisco. Motuga pulled down a team-high nine rebounds to go along with 12 points, while Murekatete grabbed eight boards to go along with 16 points.
Fifth-year redshirt senior Krystal Leger-Walker also filled up the stat sheet against the Dons, as the point guard scored seven points, pulled down six rebounds and dished out a team-high five assists in over 35 minutes of action.
With the win, Washington State improves to 5-1 on the year, while San Francisco falls to 4-4. The victory over USF also gives WSU its sixth-straight win over a non-conference foe at Beasley Coliseum. The Cougars have now won 12 of its last 13 home games against non-conference opponents.
The Cougs got off to a slow start on Thursday, as they only shot 20 percent from the floor over the first 10 minutes of action and trailed San Francisco by five points heading into the second quarter. WSU found itself down by 12 points at 23-11 with 7:40 remaining before half, but found its rhythm from that point to get back into the game. Washington State closed out the frame on a 19-4 run to take a three-point lead over USF into the break at 30-27.
WSU busted open the dam in the third quarter, as the Cougars outscored the Dons, 20-9, in the frame to build a 14-point lead heading into the fourth. Washington State shot a blistering 80 percent from the floor in the third stanza, as the Cougs connected on eight of their 10 shots from the field. Conversely, the WSU defense was able to lock down the San Francisco offense coming out of halftime, as USF shot 15.4 percent (2-of-13) from the floor in the third.
San Francisco was able to cut Washington State's lead to 65-57 with a 97 seconds left in the game. However, Charlisse Leger-Walker proved clutch at the free throw line, as she made all five of her free throw attempts down the stretch to seal the 14-point victory for the Cougs.
Washington State head coach Kamie Ethridge on the Win
"I'm excited that we got ourselves straight a little bit in the second and third quarters. I thought it was a team that lacked confidence in the first quarter coming off our game against NC State. I think when we got more physical the game really changed for us. We guarded them well in the second and third quarters, and I think that's where the game changed."
- With the win, Washington State is off to a 5-1 start for the second-straight season. It marks the first time since the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons that WSU has began two consecutive campaigns with a 5-1 record through six games.
- Sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker scored a season-high 27 points. It marks the third time this season that Leger-Walker has scored 20-or-more points. It is also her 15th career game with 20-plus points.
- Senior Ula Motuga recorded a season-high 12 points in the win. It is the first time since the season opener against San Jose State that Motuga has scored double-digit points in a contest.
- Junior Bella Murekatete registered double-digit points for the fifth time this season with 16 points against San Francisco.
- With five assists this afternoon, redshirt fifth-year senior Krystal Leger-Walker has now handed out at least one assist in 45-consecutive games.
- Charlisse Leger-Walker, Krystal Leger-Walker and Bella Murekatete each made their 30th-consecutive start for Washington State. All three have started every game dating back to last season's season-opening contest at Washington.
Washington State's stay at home will be a short one, as the Cougars take to the road again this Saturday, Dec. 4, at UC Davis. Tip-off against the Aggies is set for 4 p.m. PT.