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Cougs Claim a 51-49 Win at Gonzaga

Dec 8, 2021

SPOKANE – The Washington State women's basketball team erased a 12-point second-half deficit at Gonzaga to mount a 51-49 come-from-behind win over the Bulldogs Wednesday, Dec. 8, at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane.

The Cougars had trailed the Bulldogs for nearly the entire first half and Gonzaga took a 34-22 going into the third quarter media break. Senior Ula Motuga sparked an 11-0 run with a 3-pointer at the 4:30 mark of the third, as WSU pulled within a point of Gonzaga at 34-33 with 1:25 remaining in the frame.

Washington State kept its momentum going into the fourth quarter, as WSU opened the stanza with back-to-back buckets from sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker and freshman Tara Wallack to take a 37-36 lead. The two teams traded buckets over the next three minutes of play until Gonzaga got a 3-point field goal to go up 43-41 at the six-minute mark. The Cougars pulled even a minute later with a jumper from junior Emma Nankervis. Nankervis' shot began a 6-0 spurt for the Cougs, as Wallack and fifth-year senior Krystal Leger-Walker each followed with a bucket of their own to give WSU a 47-43 lead with 3:30 left to play.

GU would not go down quietly, rolling off four-straight points to pull even at 47-all with 1:30 remaining in the contest. Washington State got a put-back layup from Motuga to take a two-point advantage, but Gonzaga was once again was able to answer with a pair of free throws after Motuga's go-ahead bucket.

Washington State called upon Murekatete with the game tied and less than 40-ticks on the clock and she did not disappoint. The 6-3 center was able to draw contact on a shot to put herself at the line for two with the game tied at 49-49 and 23 seconds remaining. Murekatete went 1-of-2 from the line to give her team a one-point lead at 50-49. The Cougar defense held strong, forcing the Bulldogs into a long 3-point attempt that clanked off the rim and into the hands of Charlisse Leger-Walker, who immediately called a timeout to ensure her team of possession in the closing seconds.

The younger Leger-Walker was then fouled out of the timeout, where she would hit 1-of-2 attempts to give WSU a two-point advantage at 51-49 with 1.7 seconds remaining in the game. GU had one final opportunity to tie or take the lead, but the Cougs once again held strong on the final possession. Gonzaga's final 3-point attempt grazed off the cylinder, as WSU secured its first win at the McCarthey Athletic Center since 2014.

With the win, Washington State improves to 7-1 on the year. It matches last season's 7-1 start and marks the first time in 30 years that the Cougars have began back-to-back campaigns with a 7-1 record through the first eight games of a season.

Charlisse Leger-Walker scored a game-high 14 points in the win. Bella Murekatete nearly had a double-double by pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with nine points.  Freshman Tara Wallack added eight points, six of which came in the decisive fourth quarter. The Leger-Walker sisters had a combined eight steals, as each sister had four apiece. As a team, Washington State forced Gonzaga into 20 turnovers.

WSU Head Coach Kamie Ethridge on the Win
"This is a big win. It was an amazing performance from our team. It was great being in the locker room after the game and seeing them celebrate. They know this was a big win. It was the first time that our freshmen and sophomores had played in front of a crowd like this. We knew the problems that Gonzaga presented with their discipline and physicality. That has killed us in the past against them, because we haven't been physical enough to play with them. Our team understands that this is a statement game for our program. It shows where we are going and how far we've grown. Now we can guard at this level now and compete. I thought we kept ourselves in the game and made some amazing game-winning plays in the second half."

Coug Notes
- With the win, Washington State snaps a four-game losing streak against Gonzaga and WSU picks up its first win over the Bulldogs in the Ethridge Era.
- The Cougs move to 21-11 all-time against Gonzaga and 9-6 all-time against the Bulldogs in Spokane.
- The Cougars pick up their first win at the McCarthey Athletic Center since Dec. 9, 2014.
- Washington State becomes just the third team to pick up a win in the Kennel since 2018, joining Stanford and BYU as the only programs to beat Gonzaga in Spokane over the last three seasons.
- WSU has now knocked off back-to-back teams that played in last season's NCAA Tournament. The Cougars defeated the defending Big West champion UC Davis (71-49) this past Saturday in Davis.
- Sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker extended her double-digit scoring streak to three games. Her 14-point performance tonight marks the 29th time she has scored 10-or-more points in a game.
- Junior Bella Murekatete pulled down double-digit rebounds for the third time this season. It is also her seventh career game with 10-or-more rebounds.
Next Up
Washington State returns home to play its final non-conference home game of the 2021-22 season, when the Cougars host Boise State this Sunday, Dec. 12. Tip-off against the Broncos is set for 12 p.m. PT and will air live on Pac-12 Networks Washington.