The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Cougars beat Bengals

WSU women’s basketball beats Idaho State 64-47, “leaves a lot of points on the floor”
Bella Murekatete at the free-throw line, Nov. 9, in Pullman, Wash.

WSU women’s basketball (3-0) beat the Idaho State Bengals (1-1) 64-47, Sunday at Beasley Coliseum to start the season 3-0 for the fifth straight year.

The Cougs started about as hot as you might expect a Pac-12 program to play out of the gate against a Big Sky Conference program. After the first quarter, WSU led ISU 23-13, but scored no more than 15 points in the remaining quarters.

“I don’t know that we were special in any capacity and [we were] pretty underwhelming response after the first quarter,” head coach Kamie Ethridge said.

For the second time in three games, Charlisse Leger-Walker did not score at her typical nearly 20 points per game clip, but it was not from a lack of trying.

Leger-Walker was 2-of-10 from the floor and a startling 0-for-7 from three. As was the case Monday, she added value in other ways through six rebounds two assists, a block and a steal to post a plus/minus of 14.

Leger-Walker has had cold stretches in previous seasons and still posted incredible percentages by the end of the season, Ethridge said.

“I think she’s one that we just don’t need to worry about,” Ethridge said. “She will figure it out.”

Leger-Walker’s shooting woes were a team-wide struggle Sunday as the Cougs shot a collective 17% (4-for-23) from beyond the arc.

“We have the players we want shooting wide-open threes and we missed them all,” Ethridge said. “And so we won’t win very many games shooting this poorly from three just because of how people will play us.”

Ethridge said she was disappointed in the Cougars’ inability to rebound the ball and find other ways to score.

In the first quarter, senior center Bella Murekatete looked much more like the Bella Coug fans know and love.

After scoring just 8 points and being outmatched by Gonzaga’s Yvonne Ejim Thursday, Murekatete was the most productive Coug on the floor, Sunday posting a plus/minus of 20 and pacing the Cougs with 16 points (7-for-12). The All-Pac-12 player provided seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

In the third quarter, Leger-Walker ran to the top of the key, and fired the ball off to Tuhina on her right who passed the ball to Wallack in the right-hand corner. The junior from South Surrey let it fly and sat down on the court as she presented the first “T-Time” of the year.

Jess [Jessica Clarke] came up with it and it just really stuck recently. So I’m trying to make it a thing now,” Wallack said. “It’s T-time if I make a three.”

The Cougs won of course, but learned a lot of lessons that will hopefully help them play tougher basketball as the season continues, Ethridge said.

“I’m not sure we’re tough enough,” Ethridge said. “There’s nothing wrong with smiles and having fun and I want us to play with all of that. But, you know, we got to be tougher.”

Toughness for Ethridge’s Cougars is playing strong defense, getting to the ball before the opponents and creating scoring opportunities without having to depend on Leger-Walker or the other starters, Ethridge said.

Freshman Eleonora Villa rounded out her first week of college basketball nicely with another 12-point game with two steals.

The freshman from Italy has fit well in the Cougars’ lineup as she does a lot of things well from an authoritative 3-point shot to her smooth floaters. 

Playing at WSU has also given Villa the chance to learn a lot from the Cougars’ experienced roster.

“They have a lot more experience than me so I can live and learn a lot from everyone. And I’m thankful every day,” Villa said.

Freshman Jenna Villa, who made all four of her threes, Nov. 6 in her collegiate debut missed all five of her 3-point attempts, Sunday.

“Big moments lights are on I really believe that Jenna’s gonna make those shots and we need her to,” Ethridge said.

The Cougs left a lot of points on the board but hit the road for their first road game of the season.

WSU hits the road for the first time in 2023–24. The Cougs will face the Montana Grizzlies at 6 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Montana, the home of WSU freshman Alex Covill.

Coug fans can catch the game on ESPN+.

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About the Contributors
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the sports editor for spring 2024. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year and managing editor for the summer and fall 2023. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves sports and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.