Women’s basketball defeats Eastern Washington

Cougars continue to play well as they head into conference play to face Utah



Sophomore guard Grace Sarver and junior guard Cherilyn Molina celebrate at mid-court.

DANIEL SHURR, Evergreen reporter

The WSU women’s basketball team defeated the Eastern Washington Eagles 73-52 on Dec. 22 in Beasley Coliseum.

The Cougars have been through the wringer the past few days, after an upset victory against No. 21 Oregon State, followed by a crushing defeat in the final seconds at home to No. 8 Oregon.

WSU (4-1, 2-1) had to adapt to a quick turnaround the day after their first loss of the season, as the Cougars hosted the Eastern Washington University Eagles (1-6, 0-2).

“This is a team that is going to come in here to scratch and claw to knock off a power five team,” said WSU head coach Kamie Ethridge.

This was the third time in four days that the Cougars were back home in Beasley. It was also their last game until Jan. 1, when they will travel to play the University of Utah.

This was supposed to be the first game of the season for both teams, but COVID-19 prevented the team from playing on the initial date of Nov. 25.

WSU won the opening tip to start the game, and Bella Murekatete drew first blood. But the Cougars struggled in the first quarter against the Eastern Eagles.

Eastern claimed a 12-10 lead forcing Ethridge to call a time out and perform a full-court substitution early in the first quarter.

A questionable decision in the moment, but a quick three by redshirt sophomore guard Michaela Jones, followed by a three-pointer by sophomore guard Grace Sarver gave WSU a 16-13 lead.

“We have more depth than before, which allows us to be a better team,” Ethridge said.

The starters remained on the bench to start the second quarter, and a 6-0 run led to a 22-13 WSU lead.

Ethridge sent her starting lineup back in, but their exhaustion from the past three days was still evident.

“It’s easy to turn around after those big upset wins,” said redshirt senior guard Krystal Leger-Walker.

But after suffering the first loss of the season, it makes sense that WSU would be fatigued.

In the first half, the Cougars shot under 40% from the floor, which allowed Eastern Washington to chip away at the WSU lead and stay in the game.

But just as quickly as Eastern gained momentum, they lost it.

The WSU starters found their rhythm, as sophomore guard Johanna Teder hit a three, followed by dominant defense by both Krystal and her sister, freshman guard Charlisse Leger-Walker.

This helped WSU take a 33-20 halftime lead over the Eagles.

To start the second half, Eastern Washington made a free throw, but WSU responded with an easy layup from Charlisse Leger-Walker.

After a handful of threes to seemingly pad the starter’s stats, WSU put up 50 points in the first two and a half quarters.

The starting five got the majority of the minutes in the third, but the depth players got more time on the court as well.

Ethridge is confident about the depth of her team and feels it was good for the players to finally get some respectable minutes.

“I still feel good about our depth,” Ethridge said. “I’m excited for this team, they’ve worked so hard.”

WSU pulled ahead over Eastern, and at the end of the third, WSU possessed a comfortable 53-35 lead.

To start the fourth quarter, not a starter was on the floor, giving the second team a chance to show off what they have done in practice. Freshman guard Ekin Celikdemir made her college debut in the final minute of action as well.

The second team was efficient, as the bench players scored a combined 32 points, keeping the WSU lead, and giving the Cougars their fourth win of the year.

“I honestly didn’t know how we’d be,” Ethridge said. “Would we be thinking it was easy and [I wondered] how would we respond?”

WSU will have a few days off for the holidays but will resume the season on New Year’s Day on the road against the University of Utah.