Cougs primed for Pac-12 play with best start in program history

Wazzu 10-2, Leger-Walker climbing record books



WSU guard Charlisse Leger-Walker drives toward the hoop during an NCAA women’s basketball game against Montana, Dec. 2.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports editor

Charlisse Leger-Walker’s status as an ascending all-time Cougar legend was a decently popular opinion among WSU faithful, but in the first two months of the 2022-23 season, it has become an indisputable fact as the junior guard continues to rise in the program record books.

Leger-Walker turned heads when she scored a career-best 40 points in the Apple Cup (the second-most points scored in a single game in program history), but her effort alone could not surmount the Huskies.

WSU women’s basketball wowed Cougar fans with one of their best starts in program history, starting the year with 10 wins and two losses. The Cougs’ 10-2 start ties their season starts from 2014-15 and 1989-90 as the best in program history.

WSU’s 10-1 nonconference record is a part of Pac-12 women’s basketball’s best combined nonconference record in conference history with 115 wins and only 20 losses.

Although their showing in the Apple Cup in Seattle was a frustrating loss, the Cougs have taken care of every opponent they have faced since school wrapped up for the year.

Apple Cup @ UW Dec. 11  82-66 loss in Seattle

The Seattle edition of the 2022-23 Apple Cup series was the Cougars’ first taste of Pac-12 play.

Leger-Walker delivered an all-time classic performance that will sadly be reduced to a footnote in history.

She scored 40 points against the Huskies, the second-most points scored in a single game in program history. Despite being one point away from tying and two away from setting the single-game program record with four minutes to go in the game, UW kept her away from the basket and away from history.

Bella Murekatete scored 10 points and Tara Wallack snagged a personal-best 11 rebounds.

The rest of the team provided little help, as they scored only 16 other points.

Defensively, the Huskies had all of the answers against the Cougs going on numerous runs while holding Wazzu scoreless. They outpaced the Cougs once they got the lead for good in the second quarter, allowing WSU to get no closer than 6 points.

Unfortunately, the Cougs’ loss to the Huskies is a return to the program’s historical norms but snaps a four-game win streak in which WSU did not lose to UW over the past two seasons.

The Cougars’ all-time record versus the Dawgs dropped to 28-75.

Jackson State; Dec. 17 83-56 win in Pullman

After a disheartening Apple Cup loss, the Cougs returned to Pullman, took their final exams and prepared to host Jackson State.

Three Cougs scored in double digits including Leger-Walker (20 points), Murekatete (14 points) and Johanna Teder (11 points). WSU improved to 20-4 in games where Teder scored at least 10 points.

Murekatete also recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 10 rebounds to go along with her 14 points.

The Cougs’ lead was as large as 35 points as they improved to a perfect 5-0 at Beasley Coliseum on the season and extended their non-conference home win streak to 11.

Freshman Kyra Gardner scored a then career-high 9 points off of the bench.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi; Dec. 19 75-49 win in Corpus Christi, Texas 

The Cougs wrapped up their out-of-conference schedule with two straight games in the Lone Star State.

Leger-Walker shot 7-of-13 (53%) from the field, her fifth straight game shooting 50% or more.

She joined Wallack in turning in twin 20-point performances. Wallack did so with an incredible 9-for-12 shooting day. She tied her career-best offensive outing of 20 points on Nov. 11 versus Prairie View A&M.

Wallack, Leger-Walker and Ula Motuga each grabbed seven rebounds to lead the team.

Motuga scored 12 points and Gardner scored a career-high 10 points after she scored 9 points in the previous game.

Houston Dec. 21; 70-63 win in Houston, Texas

WSU wrapped up its 2022 out-of-conference schedule with a win against the other Cougars. The WSU Cougars are 1-1 against other Cougars, losing to BYU in November and beating Houston.

Four Cougs turned in double-digit performances, Motuga led the way with a 14-point effort.

Leger-Walker, Wallack and Teder each scored 11 points.

Teder was cold from beyond the arc, making 1-of-7 3-point shots. Wallack, on the other hand, had the hot hand, making 3-of-4.

The rest of the team was a combined 0-for-7 as WSU shot 21% (4-for-19) from three.

WSU shot 45% overall. Murekatete delivered 8 points and 10 rebounds, Grace Sarver shot her season-high of 8 points and Astera Tuhina turned in a sold 7-point outing.

With her 11 points, Leger-Walker rose to a tie with April Cook for 13th on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,188 points in her 2.5 seasons at Wazzu.

WSU women’s basketball is back in action at 4 p.m. Friday in their Pac-12 Conference home opener against Utah, the team that eliminated Wazzu from the 2022 Pac-12 Conference Tournament. They face Colorado the following Sunday and host the Washington Huskies for the Pullman edition of the Apple Cup on Jan. 8, the day before the spring semester begins.