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Krystal Leger-Walker's Heroics Lifts Cougs Past UCLA

Feb 11, 2022

PULLMAN, Wash. – Redshirt fifth-year senior Krystal Leger-Walker sent Beasley Coliseum into pandemonium on Friday, Feb. 11, against UCLA, as the point guard from New Zealand converted an old-fashioned 3-point play with 1.7 seconds remaining on the clock to give the Washington State women's basketball team a thrilling 66-65 come-from-behind win over the Bruins in Pac-12 Conference action.

Leger-Walker crashed the glass and collected a loose-ball rebound after her sister Charlisse Leger-Walker missed a potential game-tying shot. The point guard made her way between three Bruins to pick up the basketball, then flipped up a shot as she drew contact. The ball tapped off the corner of the square and fell perfectly into the basket to tie the game at 62-all with 1.7 seconds remaining. Leger-Walker calmly collected herself and knocked down the go-ahead free throw to give Washington State a thrilling one-point victory over UCLA.

With the win, Washington State improves to 15-8 on the year, while the Cougars are now 7-5 in Pac-12 Conference play.

Leger-Walker finished with a team-high 22 points, while dishing out a game-high five assists. The point guard shot 38.9 percent from the field on Friday, as she went 7-of-18 from the field. Senior Ula Motuga followed Leger-Walker in the scoring column, as the Logan, Australia native scored 12 points. Both Leger-Walker and Motuga each connected on a team-best three shots from behind the arc.

Junior Bella Murekatete rounded out the trio of double-digit scorers for WSU, as the junior forward collected 11 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker grabbed a team-high eight rebounds to go along with six points and two steals.

Washington State had led for over 27 minutes off game time on Friday against the Bruins, and held a seven-point lead at 47-40 with 3:02 left in the third quarter. However, with less than seven minutes remaining in the contest the Cougars found themselves trailing UCLA, 54-47, after the Bruins rolled off 12-straight points to begin the fourth quarter.

The Cougars would go on a 7-0 run of its own late in the fourth to pull even at 56-56 with 3:36 on the clock. UCLA held a 61-60 advantage with two minutes remaining in the contest, but that lead wouldn't last long, as Motuga's 3-pointer in transition gave WSU a 63-61 lead with 1:55 left to play.

UCLA rolled off four-straight points after Motuga's 3-point field goal to reclaim a 65-63 edge with 56 ticks left on the clock. Both teams rose to the occasion defensively in the final minute, as each team forced a turnover in the closing seconds. Murekatete was able to get a steal with 20 seconds remaining to set up Krystal Leger-Walker's heroics.

Head Coach Kamie Ethridge on the Win
"I'm unbelievably relieved and thrilled for our team. I thought it was a hard-fought game that went back and forth. Both teams were trading momentum throughout the game. I was very concerned with how we started the fourth quarter. We got into a bit of a hole, but I thought it was huge for our team to come back and make big plays. The ending was perfect for Krystal. Not only to tie the game, but she also stepped up to the line and hit a free throw to win it. I'm thrilled that we pulled this out and found a way to win."

Coug Notes
- Washington State has now won back-to-back games at home over UCLA for the first time since 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons.
- WSU improves to 10-59 all-time against UCLA. All 10 wins over the Bruins have come in Pullman.
- WSU has now collected its 15th win of the 2021-22 regular season. The 15 wins are the fourth-most wins in a single season in program history.
- Washington State collected its seventh Pac-12 Conference win of the season with a victory over UCLA. It marks the seventh time in program history that WSU has collected seven-or-more Pac-12 wins in a season.
- Redshirt fifth-year senior Krystal Leger-Walker scored a season-high 22 points in the win over UCLA.
- Leger-Walker's 22-point effort is her first 20-point outing of the season and the fourth of her collegiate career. It was only three points shy of her career high of 25 points, which she set last season at Colorado.
- Ula Motuga has now hit a 3-point field goal in eight of her last 10 games.
- Motuga's 12-point outing marks the sixth time this season the forward has scored 10-or-more point in a game. It is also Motuga's 24th career game with double-digit points.
- Bella Murekatete has now scored double-digit points in two of her last three games. The post player has scored 10-or-more points in 12 games this season.

Up Next
The Washington State women's basketball team returns to action this Sunday, Feb. 13, when the Cougars host Southern California. Tip-off from Beasley Coliseum is set for 12 p.m. PT and will air live on Pac-12 Network Washington.