Cougs raise banner in win

WSU women’s basketball moves to 1-0, hosts Northern Arizona on Friday



The WSU women’s basketball team celebrates the rising of their new banner Tuesday in Pullman. The banner recognized the teams’ nomination to play in the NCAA Tournament during the 2021 season.

DAYLON HICKS, Evergreen reporter

When WSU celebrated the accomplishments of their 2020-21 basketball team on Tuesday night, the Cougars were able to secure their first regular-season win of the 2021-22 season against the San Jose State Spartans 86-56.

The Cougars officially return to a full season for the 2021-22 year after only having 24 games because of the pandemic last season. The Cougars will play 29 games this year, which include 18 Pac-12 Conference games. Last season, San Jose State was limited to just four games due to the pandemic, finishing with a record of 2-2. 

In the season opener, the Cougars displayed the potential for how good they can be this season. The Leger-Walker sisters had success as sophomore Charlisse tied for the team lead in points securing 22 for the Cougars and fifth-year Krystal taking the top spot in assists with eight.

WSU center Bella Murekatete (55) jumps for a layup during a college basketball game against San Jose State Tuesday in Pullman.

Both sisters earned preseason accolades as Charlisse was named Preseason All-Pac-12 by both the media and coaches, and Krystal was named Preseason All-Pac-12 honorable mention by the media. Charlisse recently made history with the Cougars as she was named to both John. R. Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy watch lists.

Bella Murekatete, the junior center from Rwanda, matched Charlisse in points with a career-high 22. Last season, her impact with the Cougars was immense as she averaged 8.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. This season, she is receiving recognition as she is on the Lisa Leslie Award watch list, awarded to the best center in NCAA Division I women’s college basketball. 

Freshman Tara Wallack made her first start for the Cougar as she had nine points and pulled down five rebounds in a team-high 35 minutes of action. Senior Ula Motuga had an impressive day for the Cougars as she posted double-digit scoring with 11 points. 

The Cougars were explosive from start to finish as they were up double digits throughout much of the game against the Spartans. 

“I’m just excited to be playing,” WSU head coach Kamie Ethridge said. “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. 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 return to action in Beasley Coliseum vs Northern Arizona at 2 p.m. Friday.