Cougs beat UCLA in LA for first time

Cougs hold Bruins 15 points below season average, Wallack scores 15



WSU guard Tara Wallack stumbles after being fouled during an NCAA women’s basketball game against Prairie View A&M, Nov. 13.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor

For the first time, the Cougar women beat the UCLA Bruins at the Pauley Pavilion.

WSU women’s basketball (19-9, 9-9 Pac-12) beat the No. 17 UCLA Bruins (22-8, 11-7 Pac-12) 62-55 Feb. 23 at Pauley Pavillion in Los Angeles.

When the Cougars needed her, Tara Wallack was everything Wazzu needed and more as she made smart and athletic plays the whole night. In the first quarter, the Bruins let the ball fly right past them, allowing Wallack to grab the offensive board and take it off the glass and to the basket to extend the Cougar’s early lead.

When the Bruins had made the game a one-possession affair with under a minute left, Wallack iced the game with a 3-pointer. It was her second 3-pointer of the night as part of her 15-point, five-rebound performance.

Charlisse Leger-Walker drove toward the hoop attracting the full attention of the defense. As she neared the left side of the hoop, she kicked the ball out to an open Wallack in the right wing who sent the ball flying through the air. As the ball made contact with the net, every Cougar’s dreams of achieving a third road win over a ranked team were realized as all UCLA fans could do was watch Wazzu celebrate on their court.

“Honestly, I was just like please go in and it went in and I heard cheering from my bench and I was like ‘WHOOO!'” Wallack said in her Pac-12 Network postgame interview.

Wallack credited Leger-Walker’s excellent passing for helping her find the three and praised her team’s ability to consistently find the open player.

Although it was not Wazzu’s smoothest shooting night of the year (WSU shot 38.6% from the floor and 17.6% from beyond the arc) the Cougs posted a healthy 62 points. Thankfully, the Bruins were also not shooting their best and both team’s defenses showed up.

The path to history required WSU to hold the red-hot ranked Bruins to 15 points below their season average (55 points rather than their 70-point average) and 10% below their average shooting clip (29% rather than 39% average).

In Pullman, the Cougs played UCLA with Leger-Walker absent for a family matter.

With Leger-Walker on the floor for this matchup, Emily Bessoir Gabriela Jaquez, Lina Sontag and Londynn Jones still found success with one 3-point shot each but did not find the same amount of scoring success as last time out when they beat WSU 73-66.

Charisma Osborne and Kiki Rice led the way for the Bruins but were contained to 14 and 10 points respectively by making a third of their shots.

Bella Murekatete recorded her seventh career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. She was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line.

Leger-Walker missed all six of her 3-pointers but grabbed six boards and scored 12 points.

The Cougs finished the regular season with a heartbreaking double overtime loss to USC 68-65 (2OT).

They begin the postseason at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Las Vegas with a first-round Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas.