Cougars cage Bruins

Krystal Leger-Walker leads WSU to victory; scores go-ahead free throw



WSU center Bella Murekatete (55) jumps for a layup during the first half of an NCAA collegiate basketball game against UCLA, Feb. 11.

DAYLON HICKS, Evergreen reporter

The WSU women’s basketball team won a nail-biter against the UCLA Bruins, 66-65, on Friday night. 

Krystal Leger-Walker sank a layup to tie the game at 65-65 and was fouled on the shot. With the game on the line, she sank the free throw with confidence and gave the Cougs a one-point advantage with less than a second to play. 

With the win, WSU has won back-to-back games at home over UCLA for the first time since the 1995-96 season. 

Wednesday’s loss against Oregon at home was a motivating factor in winning Friday’s matchup. 

“I think we were very disappointed after that game, and you know our saying into this game iswe’ll do whatever it takes to win,’” Leger-Walker said. 

The WSU women’s basketball team celebrates during the second half of an NCAA collegiate basketball game against UCLA, Feb. 11.

WSU improves to 15-8 on the year and 7-5 in the Pac-12 Conference. The 15-win season is WSU’s fourth-most winning season in program history. 

The Cougars controlled the ball at the end, going on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 56-56 with 3:36 to play. The Bruins fought back late in the fourth to regain the lead, 61-60. WSU’s Ula Motuga made a three to give the Cougars a 63-61 lead with 1:55 left to play. Leger-Walker then answered UCLA’s comeback with her game-winning shot and free throw.

Leger-Walker led the Cougars with 22 points and five assists. Her 22 points were a season-high and the fourth 20-plus point outing of her collegiate career. 

There were two other Cougars who scored in double-digits. Motuga scored 12 points and was impactful behind the arc, making three 3-pointers. Bella Murekatete provided pressure in the paint as she was able to secure 11 points and had seven rebounds. She has now scored double-digit points in two of her last three games and is one of the most dominant post players in the Pac-12.

“I’m unbelievably relieved and thrilled for our team,” WSU head coach Kamie Ethridge said. “I thought it was a hard-fought game that went back and forth. Both teams were trading momentum throughout the game.”

With the win, WSU continues to rise in the conference rankings as the Pac-12 Championship comes near.