Cougs grab their half of Apple, beat Huskies 66-52

WSU earns first Pac-12 win over cross-state rivals

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports editor

With the game even 6-6, Charlisse Leger-Walker simply raised her hand and caught the ball thrown directly at her by a Husky.

At the other end of the floor, she plunged into a sea of purple below the basket. Bella Murekatete emerged with the ball and swiftly saw it through the hoop.

Wazzu used their knowledge of the UW offense to exploit the plays the Huskies created, Leger-Walker said in her post-game press conference.

“It wasn’t even athletic, I just put my hand up and they threw the ball into my hands,” Leger-Walker said. “When you know what they’re looking for it is really easy to make those reads.”

WSU women’s basketball (11-4, 1-3 Pac-12) beat University of Washington (9-5, 1-3 Pac-12) 66-52 in the Pullman edition of the Apple Cup.

“Ultimately, our defense won us that game,” Leger-Walker said.

Leger-Walker made a triumphant return to Pullman with 26 points, 22 of which came in the second half after she missed the last two games.


“I’ve been brutal in practice trying to get this team to handle adversity a little bit better than we did this past weekend,” Ethridge said.

A little under a month removed from their 82-66 Apple Cup loss in Seattle and a week removed from their Utah and Colorado losses, the Cougs were determined to avoid repeating those mistakes by having a competitive week in practice.

Murekatete scored 20 points and snagged eight rebounds. Her offensive prowess helped the Cougs start fast and keep pace with a Dawg squad that had not tasted a Pac-12 victory since beating WSU in December.


Astera Tuhina impressed her coaches all season and was scheduled to make a start. Minutes prior to tip-off, Tuhina was injured during a warm-up drill on the floor and later emerged from the locker room on crutches.

When Wazzu won, she hopped on one foot over to a celebratory huddle with her teammates and along the Husky high-five line.

Hopping on one foot to celebrate with her team was probably not the wisest move, but one has to appreciate her effort.

Ethridge did not have a lot of information on her injury after the game.

The first quarter ended with the Cougs and the Dawgs even at 14. The teams traded scoring, giving each other life through costly mistakes and turnovers. Too often, WSU started games slowly falling into double-digit deficits. This habit has led to Wazzu needing two of their top five comebacks in program history to defeat two opponents from the West Coast Conference.

Now that the Cougs are in the Pac-12 play, double-digit deficits can be deadly. On Sunday, Wazzu taught UW that lesson.

At the beginning of the second quarter, Ula Motuga hit a 3-point shot that gave the Cougs the lead. A lead they would hold on to for good.

Motuga had an excellent day shooting 5-for-6 for 11 points and snagging six rebounds.

Wazzu shot over 50% and shot 36% from three. Leger-Walker shot two of them in a triumphant return in the rivalry game.

With Leger-Walker on the floor after hanging 40 on the Huskies the last time out, UW focused on guarding the star guard and contained her to just 4 points in the first half. This opened up the game for other shooters and led to 50 of the Cougs’ points coming in the paint.

In the second half, Leger-Walker found her lanes to score 7 in the third and 15 points in the fourth quarter.


Kyra Gardner got a few minutes at the end of the game. After missing a layup and allowing a 3-point shot, she shot a three of her own. Her maturity in not being discouraged by a simple mistake impressed her coach.


Grace Sarver did not generate any counting stats in her six minutes of play but she did create physical defensive pressure. Jessica Clarke has been working her way back from injury. She delivered a standup shot right in the face of a Husky defender.

Although this was the third straight home game for Wazzu, it was the liveliest home game in a while thanks to the presence of the WSU spirit, band and the Crimson Girls, who performed one of their routines ahead of their showcase Sunday.

The crowd was livelier but it was far from perfect as there was not a robust student section because of the unideal Sunday afternoon time slot and the fact that many students were traveling back to Pullman on Sunday.

The Cougs are next in action at 7 p.m. Friday in Corvallis, Oregon where they will face the Oregon State Beavers.