Cougs fight off early struggles against Trojans

Largest non-overtime comeback in WSU program history



WSU guard Charlisse Leger-Walker (5, right) shoots a three-pointer during a college basketball game against the University of San Francisco in Beasley Coliseum, Dec. 3, 2021.

Jake Hull, Evergreen reporter

The WSU women’s basketball team earned their 10th win of the season Friday night, defeating USC 71-63. 

WSU gets their first win of the new year and bounces back after losing their last two games to top-five teams Stanford and Arizona. This is the Cougars’ second win in conference play, currently sitting fourth in the PAC-12.

The Cougs were led by guard Johanna Teder with 20 points, shooting 4-10 from three. She also had five rebounds, two steals and three assists in the contest. This is Teder’s highest-scoring game of the year. Her previous high was on New Year’s Eve when she scored 10 points against Cal. 

USC seemed to control the first half, leading by 14 at the end of the first quarter. USC’s second-half was the opposite, resulting in 14 turnovers and 16 fouls. The Trojans’ second-half mishaps resulted in WSU’s ninth win over USC in program history.

The Trojans were led by Jordyn Jenkins, who went 8-11 and scored 20 points in the game. Bella Perkins also went 5-8 from the field for 15 points. Perkins’s points all came from three-point range, only missing one three in the game. Tera Reed added nine assists and five rebounds for USC, but ultimately WSU showed more heart and came away with the win. 

Charlisse Leger-Walker contributed to the WSU win, scoring 13 points and grabbing five rebounds. Leger-Walker also blocked two shots in the game. 

Ula Motuga finished the game shooting 5-8 and scored a season-high 14 points. Motuga made a season-high 4-5 shots from behind the arc. The senior also added five rebounds and two assists to her stat line. 

“I thought Ula’s minutes were amazing,” head coach Kamie Ethridge said. “We needed it badly when she made every one of her threes.” 

The Cougs got off to a rough start scoring the basketball, missing their first 11 field goal attempts. The only basket the Cougs scored in the first quarter was a three-point shot from Ula Motuga at the 2:02 mark. WSU also turned the ball over five times in the opening quarter, leading to a 14-point deficit at the start of the second quarter. 

“Offensively, we knew we were gonna get better as this game went on,” Ethridge said postgame. “We just have to understand the first 10 seconds of offense doesn’t have to create the shot for us.”

WSU’s shooting improved in the second quarter. They shot 9-13 in the quarter and 4-8 from behind the arc. The quarter was led by Johanna Teder, who scored 10 points, including four free throws and two made threes. WSU outscored USC 27-20 in the quarter and went into halftime, trailing by seven.

The Cougars took control in the third quarter, outscoring the Trojans 22-13 and taking a two-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Cougs forced four turnovers and eight missed shots in the third quarter, while WSU went 8-8 from the free-throw line. Bella Murekatete scored six points in the quarter and grabbed four rebounds, two on the offensive end. 

WSU regained the lead with 8:31 to play in the fourth quarter after Tara Wallack made a three-point shot to put the Cougars up 55-53. The Cougs never looked back, scoring eight straight points in the quarter to give WSU the victory. 

“Might have been our best execution in the third and fourth quarter that we’ve had all year,” Ethridge said. “Thrilled that we got this win.”

WSU finished the game shooting 23-60 and went 9-28 from deep. The Cougars made up for USC’s 11-22 night from behind the arc by making free throws when the game was close. The Cougs shot 16-18 from the line, while USC went 6-9.