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 contend with No. 9 Oregon State, fall late 65-52

WSU women’s basketball takes solid shots, play strong D, can’t spark offense in top 10 loss
Bella+Murekatete+lowers+her+shoulder+after+contact+and+before+rising+up+for+a+shot+attempt+against+Oregon+State%2C+Feb.+23%2C+in+Pullman%2C+Wash.+
BRANDON WILLMAN
Bella Murekatete lowers her shoulder after contact and before rising up for a shot attempt against Oregon State, Feb. 23, in Pullman, Wash.

In an all too familiar succession of events, the Cougars did a lot of things well against a top-10 team but did not do well enough to win.

WSU women’s basketball (16-12, 5-10 Pac-12) led midway through the second quarter but could not overcome the Beavers’ steady production and stifling defense, losing to No. 9 Oregon State (22-4, 11-4) 65-52.

Bella Murekatete paced the Cougars with 14 points on a 6-for-15 clip. 

EMMA DECASA
WSU center Bella Murekatete gets ready to jump for a layup during an NCAA women’s basketball game against Oregon State, Feb. 23, 2024, in Pullman, Wash.

Head coach Kamie Ethridge said Murekatete left some points on the floor but otherwise positively affected the game as she has for a five-year Cougar career in which she has captured the program records for rebounds, blocks, games played and game started.

On Charlisse Leger-Walker bobblehead night, freshman Eleonora Villa surpassed a Leger-Walker record. The freshman from Italy posted 10 points, marking her 12 consecutive and 21st overall double-figure game, surpassing Leger-Walker’s program freshman record of 20 double-digit games from 2020–21.

Although OSU double-teamed Ele for much of the game, she found a way to the basket on 4-of-10 attempts and connected on both free throws.

“I thought [Ele and Astera Tuhina] made some good decisions on the shots that they got. It’s just kind of everybody else. We got to find some points from other people. It can’t just be Ele, It can’t just be Bella,” Ethridge said. “We’re nitpicking when we start talking about, you know, I think Ele and some of her shots.”

BRANDON WILLMAN
Eleonora Villa dribbles at the top of the key during an NCAA WBB game against Oregon State, Feb. 23, in Pullman, Wash.

Fifth-year Beyonce Bea got one shot and missed it, shaping the boxscore through six rebounds, a block and a steal.

“We got to find some points from Bea and just hate that she has one shot in a game like this,” Ethridge said.

Ele and Murekatete provided early answers for the Cougars with 12 of Wazzu’s 14 first-quarter points at 6 points apiece.

Wazzu led 6-4 two and half minutes in, but ended the quarter down 5. Seven Beavs scored in the first.

Wallack said it is a challenge to coordinate a defensive response to a team like OSU with a slew of lethal shooters.

“It just gets a little more confusing. And that just goes back to not communicating like we need to on the court with each other,” Wallack said.

Wallack scored a career-high 23 points Sunday in Tempe versus Arizona State. She had a tougher time versus OSU, connecting on none of her four 3-point attempts and shooting 3-for-10.

Ethridge said Wallack, like many of WSU’s shooters got good looks but missed them.

“I just you know feel bad. I just think some of our best players just didn’t make shots today and had some decent looks,” Ethridge said.

Sophomore Kyra Gardner made one of WSU’s two 3-pointers but only spent nine minutes on the floor and just one minute in the second half. Ethridge took responsibility for Gardner’s lack of opportunity relative to her success on the court.

“That’s my fault, Ethridge said. “I should have given her a chance she needs some chances in the second half.”

BRANDON WILLMAN
Kyra Gardner rises up from mid-range for 2 of her 7 points, Feb. 23, in Pullman, Wash.

The Cougs’ few lapses in defense were costly. WSU left OSU sophomore Lily Hansford open for two 3-pointers. Hansford connected on each of her three 3-point attempts and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor.

The Cougs few but costly defensive lapses occurred because of poor communication. A lingering issue of the post-Charlisse Leger-Walker era of this team.

“The more everybody talks, the better. So just keep talking and reminding everybody to talk,” Murekatete said.

While the Cougs are 1-6 since Leger-Walker hurt her ACL in the third quarter of WSU’s 85-82 upset of then-No. 2 UCLA, they have a lot to play for.

Because of their historic start to the season, WSU is in the middle of the WNIT picture and has a shot at the NCAA Tournament with three regular-season games remaining and the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas looming.

“I mean, the season is not over. We still have so much to play for,” Wallack said.

Ethridge said everyone in the program wants to continue to play basketball for as long as they can this year and has shown that through their effort against ranked opponents and in practice.

EMMA DECASA
WSU women’s basketball head coach Kamie Ethridge yells to the players on the court during an NCAA women’s basketball game against Oregon State, Feb. 23, 2024, in Pullman, Wash.

“They want to be good and they’re not afraid of being coached or seeing themselves on film. They’re not trying to hide from anything that happens,” Ethridge said. “As coaches. We’re not trying to hide from anything that’s happening. We just want to find ways to make each other better and give ourselves a chance to win on Sunday.”

WSU hosts Oregon (11-17, 2-13) Sunday in Pullman. Wazzu will recognize six seniors following the game, including Leger-Walker and Murekatete.

More to Discover
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.
EMMA DECASA, Evergreen photographer
Emma Decasa is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. Originally from Issaquah, Washington, she is a junior majoring in Advertising, with a minor in Sports Communication. Emma started working for the Daily Evergreen in the fall of 2023.