Cougars outclassed by top 10 Utah, lose 73-59

Murekatete responsible for ninth most double-doubles in program history 



WSU center Bella Murekatete jumps for a layup during an NCAA basketball game against UCLA, Jan. 22. 2023 in Beasley Colisuem.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports editor

After falling to No. 25 Colorado 71-68 Friday, the Cougars faced a tougher task against No. 7 Utah but could not keep pace as they lost 73-59 Sunday.

The last time WSU women’s basketball (16–9, 6–8 Pac-12) faced Utah (20–2, 11–2 Pac-12), they overcame a 20-point second-quarter deficit without their star guard Charlisse Leger-Walker in the building.

This time with the team at full strength, the Cougars jumped out to a 4-0 lead off of a bucket apiece from their leading scorers Leger-Walker and Bella Murekatete before Utah went on a 15-4 run over the next five minutes.

After 10 minutes of basketball, the Cougs overcame a 15-8 deficit to only trail by 1, 20-19.

The Utes outshot the Cougars 50% to 35% to take a stark 41-32 halftime lead.

WSU head coach Kamie Ethridge said she regretted not playing center Murekatete more in the second quarter but she had gotten into foul trouble.

Murekatete had a top-10 career performance against a top-10 team as she recorded a double-double off of 18 points with a 50% (6-for-12) clip and added 14 rebounds.

She also added an assist, a block and a steal to have a great afternoon in Salt Lake.

Mureketete’s 11th career double-double ties her with Jonni Gray (1986–89) for the ninth most in program history.

The Cougs allowed five Utah Utes to score in double figures but still held them about 12 points below their season-average offensive output (85 points before the game) by allowing 73 points.

“I thought we played unbelievably hard. We competed great but had some bad quarters where we didn’t score enough points. We did a lot of good things; we held this team below its scoring average,” Ethridge said.

Other than Murekatete’s great day, only Leger-Walker (17 points, 35%) and freshman Astera Tuhina (10 points, 57%) crossed into double figures although Tara Wallack (9 points, 50%) came close.

The Utes ensured the Cougars did not have a lot of shooting opportunities, forcing Leger-Walker to take a lot of shots, some of which were unideal.

Tuhina only took seven shots from the field, while Wallack took only four shots but was 4-for-5 from the free throw line.

Johanna Teder played 20 minutes, but the Utes defended her well as the sharpshooter only took two shots from the field and missed both.

The Cougars walk away from the Rocky Mountains winless with four remaining games.

They return to Pullman to celebrate their seniors at 7 p.m. Friday against the Oregon Ducks and noon Sunday against the Oregon State Beavers.

The following weekend, they make one final regular season road trip to face UCLA and USC before suiting up for the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.