Cougars leave Oregon with two historic dubs

WSU women’s hoops complete Oregon sweep in first-ranked road Pac-12 win since 1998



WSU forward Jessica Clarke (14) shoots over Arizona State guard Jaddan Simmons (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Beasley Coliseum, Feb. 18.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor

Prior to Friday, Jessica Clarke had only played about seven minutes the whole season. Battling back from injury, the junior center from North Vancouver, Canada played double-digit minutes in both games over the weekend and shot a combined 57%, scoring 6 points in the five-minute overtime period that paved the way for the Cougar’s biggest win of the season so far.

WSU women’s basketball (13-4, 3-3 Pac-12) swept the Oregon schools on the road beating Oregon State (10-8, 2-5 Pac-12) 63-56 Friday and Oregon (13-5, 4-3 Pac-12) 85-84 (OT) Sunday.

Wazzu’s 63-56 win in Corvallis was the first time the Cougs had beaten the Beavers in their house in consecutive years.

On Sunday, Wazzu won their first ranked game on the road against a Pac-12 team since their win over then-No. 10 Arizona on Jan. 8. 1998.

63-56 Oregon State win

Charlisse Leger-Walker did not have what one might consider a good shooting day. She made 6-of-19 shots on her way to a perfectly respectable 14-point day with plenty of style thrown in including a top-of-the-key triple. However, she nearly tallied a triple-double with seven rebounds and eight assists. Her 40 minutes of play elevated her team and proved to be the difference in the game.

On several occasions, Leger-Walker’s sharp passes directly led to points that might not have been possible without her on the court, like her picture-perfect pass to a wide-open Clarke who seemed to simply glide to the basket, uncontested for the layup.

Fearing Leger-Walker’s sharp shooting ability, defenses often overcompensate for defending her, leaving her teammates wide open.

Tara Wallack had herself a career night, as she scored 17 points on a startling 7-for-9 clip. 

Wallack earned every point, outworking the Beaver’s defense to grind out points in the paint such as her excellent finessing of the Beavs for the basket.

Johanna Teder (12 points on 5-for-10) and Bella Murekatete (10 points on 5-for-16) cashed in with double-digit nights of their own to propel the Cougs to victory.

85-84 (OT) Oregon win

On Sunday, Wazzu shifted their attention to Eugene and the No. 21 ranked Oregon Ducks.

Leger-Walker wasted little time putting her team on the board with a clean pass over the head of an Oregon defender and into the hands of a wide-open Murekatete. Paint points and three 3-pointers would be the ingredients that helped the Cougs carve out a 13-3 lead to begin the game but the ranked Oregon Ducks would not be stopped so easily.

The second quarter was a stinker for Wazzu. Oregon went on a 16-3 run at one point and quickly carved out their own double-digit lead.

The third quarter was a much stronger showing for Wazzu seeing a 21-14 Cougar scoring advantage.

The fourth saw the Cougs lose the lead again.

“Yeah, we messed up plenty in the fourth to get them back in it but again, just the maturity and the poise of our team just makes us really proud,” head coach Kamie Ethridge said in her postgame press conference.

Wazzu saw a 14-point lead evaporate with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter as the Ducks forced overtime.

“I wasn’t sure how we would respond,” Ethridge said.

It was the second time in the season in which five players scored in double figures. The five extra minutes helped the Cougs accomplish that as Clarke made the Ducks pay with 6 points in overtime to lead Wazzu to the 1-point win, 85-86.

Clarke turned in a 14-point 5-for-7 shooting day, stepping up huge for Wazzu.

Despite fouling out, Murekatete led the Cougars in scoring with 20 points on a 10-for-16 clip including a streak of 6-straight points.

Leger-Walker scored 17 despite many of her shots falling out. She shot a 4-for-17 clip which included a 2-for-7 day from beyond the arc. Her real difference was once again in the scoring opportunities she created for others and at the free throw line where she shot 7-for-8.

Teder snagged three 3-pointers as part of a 15-point day and Ula Motuga had another 10-rebound game to add to her 14 points.

After a career-scoring night, it was only right for Clarke to be one of the Cougs that challenged Oregon’s final shot of the night. The pressure applied by a Cougar defense that had buckled under pressure moment after moment on Sunday made the difference as the Ducks’ shot rimmed out as time expired and the Cougars began their celebration.

“We know that we are good and this game kinda showed the rest of America that we’re good too,” Clarke said in her postgame Pac-12 Network interview.

Wazzu’s win over Oregon locked in the third-straight year in which Ethridge’s team has beaten a ranked team.

“We put a weekend together in these two games that was worthy of wins and we played for those wins, we got those wins, we earned those wins,” Ethridge said. 

“We want to be in postseason play, we know we have to go through the Pac to get there,” Ethridge said.

Upon returning to the locker room, Ethridge was greeted by a water bottle shower and a jubilant celebration with singing, lots of dances and a ton of good vibes.

Wazzu women’s hoops return to Pullman at the top of the world with the tough Pac-12 Conference tests only getting started. The Cougs host USC at 7 p.m., Friday and No. 8 UCLA at noon, Sunday. Both games will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Network but the team would certainly prefer fans to pack Beasley Coliseum to witness a Wazzu team on the rise.