WSU women’s basketball tips off season vs. Loyola Marymount

Cougars tip-off at 12 p.m. on Monday in Pullman

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COLE QUINN

WSU guard Charlisse Leger-Walker (5) dribbles towards the hoop during a college basketball game against San Jose State University, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Pullman.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports editor

WSU women’s basketball returns the majority of their roster from last year for head coach Kamie Ethridge’s fifth year on the Palouse. They begin their 2022-23 season against Loyola Marymount at noon on Monday at Beasley Coliseum

“It is time for the Pullman and our community, our students, surrounding areas to get out to the games for women’s basketball. We’ve put a great product on the floor for two years,” Ethridge said in her press conference. “We need you. We need you. We need you.”

This roster is perhaps the most talented roster WSU has had in a while.

They return four starters from last year:  Ula Motuga, Johanna Teder, Bella Murekatete and rising star Charlisse Leger-Walker.

Tara Wallack was a valuable role player who will contend for starting minutes in her second year at WSU, Ethridge said.

Cougar fans might even see freshman Astera Tuhina make a start. Both Wallack, who is from Canada and Tuhina, who is from Kosovo had great summers on their respective national teams.

The Cougs also welcomed two in-state recruits: Lauren Glazier from North Bend and Kyra Gardner from Raymond.

However, Ethridge does not want to overwhelm her young players like she said she did last year with Wallack becoming efficient in all five positions and learning a slew of plays.

“I think I lost [Wallack] a little bit and she had a little bit of a slump because we threw too much at her,” Ethridge said.

On Monday, Charlisse will play her first regular season basketball at WSU without her sister Krystal Leger-Walker on the team. Krystal was the Cougars’ undisputed leader throughout her career. She is now playing professionally in her home country of New Zealand leaving a natural leadership void fit perfectly for her sister.

“I stop talking sometimes because Charlisse is coaching everyone else on the floor and I just smile and walk away,” Ethridge said. “I love her growth, I love her voice on the court.”

One of WSU’s goals is to consistently have four players scoring in double digits.

“Honestly I look at all five of our players and I think we’re almost doing something wrong if they can’t get in double figures,” Ethridge said.

They will seek to score more baskets in transition and take care of the basketball.

Their first matchup of the season will test their commitment to these goals from the offseason when they host Loyola Marymount.

They are coached by Aarika Hughes. Hughes was an assistant for USC beginning in 2017 and coached and completed her first year as head coach of LMU with an 11-19 record.

The Lions are led by Ariel Johnson who scored 14.6 points per game in 2021-22 and achieved 3.4 assists per game.

Alexis Mark snagged 9.6 points and eight rebounds per game for the Lions.

Kimora Sykes was a threat from beyond the arch with a 32% three-point rate. She averaged 1.6 made three-pointers per game while shooting 32 % from beyond the arc.

The Cougs tip off their 2022-23 season at noon on Monday at Beasley Coliseum.