WSU women’s basketball revives classic Montana rivalry

Cougars host hungry dribble and drive Griz offense



WSU forward Ula Motuga jumps for a layup during an NCAA women’s basketball game against Prairie View A&M, Nov. 13.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor

The Cougar and the Grizzly, are two respected creatures that largely stay out of each other’s way in the Pacific Northwest.

However, at 6 p.m. Friday the WSU Cougars (5-1) and the Montana Grizzlies (2-4) renew their women’s basketball rivalry in Pullman as they meet for the 40th time.

Despite Montana being a smaller school, they have stuck it to Wazzu on numerous occasions holding a 22-17 all-time advantage. The Griz are the Cougars’ second-most frequent out-of-conference rivalry behind Idaho and Boise State, which WSU has faced 41 times.

The Cougs have lost their last nine meetings with Montana and seek to break the streak in their first game against the Grizzlies since March 19, 2014, in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament where the Griz beat the Cougs 90-78 in Missoula, Montana

WSU’s most recent win in the series was on Dec. 21, 1988, a 62-60 victory in Pullman.

Montana has a dribble, drive offense that seeks to spread out opposing defenses, WSU head coach Kamie Ethridge said.

“They’ve shot more threes than we have this year and I think we shoot a lot of them. It’s a difficult matchup in the sense that gosh, you gotta play great one-on-one defense and if you help out too much you’re gonna give up a lot of threes,” Ethridge said.

The strength of Montana’s dribble-drive offense is the unpredictability of the screenplay, Ethridge said.

The team has spent a little extra time preparing to stop this offense and offenses like it.

The Cougs’ performance in the first quarter against South Dakota State was dismal as the team scored only three points.

The blame for that is largely internal as WSU might have been too amped up and not directed enough.

Fifth-year senior Sammy Fatkin leads the Griz in scoring at 13.8 points per game. Redshirt junior Gina Maxwell, a transfer from Idaho averages 12.5 points per game.

The Cougs have achieved great things when they have met their two team goals of having four players score in double digits and score 20 points per quarter. While that was not immediately the case against South Dakota State, the Cougs played stout enough defense and outscored the Jackrabbits in each of the final three quarters.

The team will turn to Charlisse Leger-Walker to propel the team to mass success. Leger-Walker had a monster first week of the season and is still achieving great things despite cooling off. She scored 13 points against SDSU.

Bella Murekatete has achieved three double-doubles in her last four games.

Tara Wallack is logging more double-digit performances than she previously has. Her 11 points per game coupled with an impressive 66% field goal percentage sets her apart in her sophomore year.

WSU faces Montana at 6 p.m. Friday at Beasley Coliseum.