Women’s basketball starts season 1-0

Sisters Krystal, Charlisse Leger-Walker combine for 28 points in Cougar season opener win



Junior forward Ula Motuga contributed 16 points and seven rebounds in the Cougars season opener.

DANIEL SHURR, Evergreen reporter

The WSU women’s basketball team took down the University of Washington Huskies 60-52 in their first game of the 2020-21 season.

Junior forward Ula Motuga scored the first points of the year for Washington State (1-0, 1-0) when she drained a three-pointer in response to back-to-back Washington (3-2, 1-2) layups. 

A handful of empty possessions made way for what seemed like a defensive first quarter in Seattle until sophomore center Bella Murekatete blocked a UW layup, which led to a WSU score on the ensuing possession from Murekatete herself.

That score gave WSU the lead and ultimately sparked a 12-0 run for the Cougs that was led by freshman guard Charlisse Leger-Walker.

Despite the production on offense, WSU head coach Kamie Ethridge credits her defense in setting the tone for the game. 

“We were really locked in defensively,” Ethridge said. “We had really good one-on-one defenders.”

WSU moved the ball very efficiently, only turning it over twice and ended the first quarter of play with a 19-8 lead over the Huskies. The second quarter was a sequel to the first, starting with a coast-to-coast bucket by Motuga. 

Another dominant beginning to the quarter meant the Cougars were firmly in control of the Alaska Airlines Arena.

However, three turnovers in a row by the Cougars killed the team’s momentum, and the Huskies were able to muster up eight more points, making the score 37-16 in favor of the Cougars going into half. 

Following a dominant first two quarters, the Cougars played an inconsistent second half, and Ethridge knew it.

“I don’t think we were real sharp,” Ethridge said.

Charlisse Leger-Walker scored the first points of the half by draining two free throws, and her older sister, redshirt senior Krystal Leger-Walker, scored her first points as a Coug with a three-pointer. 

Even though the scoreboard said otherwise, the Huskies still had some fight left in them and they took over the remainder of the quarter. The Cougars went into the final quarter with a 52-36 lead, but UW was just starting to warm up.

Washington dominated in the last quarter of action, and the Huskies were able to muster a 16-point quarter. But the WSU lead was too much for UW to overcome. The Cougars ended up hanging onto the lead and coming out with the win

Charlisse Leger-Walker made a name for herself as the New Zealand native led the Cougs in scoring with 20 points in her college debut. 

Krystal Leger-Walker wreaked havoc on the defensive side of the ball snagging six rebounds of her own. 

“I don’t know two players that have a better mind for the game,” Ethridge said. 

Motuga was 5-7 from the field for 16 points. She also went perfect on free throws for the night. 

All in all, Ethridge said she is happy to start the season off with a win. However, she acknowledges that it was not pretty toward the end. 

“Even though we won in the game, I don’t think we were really sharp,” Ethridge said. “I don’t think we played with rhythm, and that’s a credit to UW.”

The Cougars will play their next game against the Idaho Vandals at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Beasley Coliseum.