No. 25 Cougars start four-game roadtrip

Freshman guard Charlisse Leger-Walker earns fourth Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award



Then-freshman center Bella Murekatete attempts to beat USC defense on Feb. 23, 2020 at Beasley Coliseum.

DANIEL SHURR, Evergreen reporter

As Washington State women’s basketball comes off one of the biggest wins in program history, they look to build on their ranking when they hit the road to take on the University of Southern California Trojans at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, Calif.

Last week, the Cougars hosted the No.7 Arizona Wildcats and defeated them 71-69 in overtime. That win gave the team their first NCAA top 25 ranking in program history.

“I couldn’t be happier for this team, and for the future of this program,” head coach Kamie Ethridge said.

The No. 25 Cougars (7-1, 5-1) are off to one of the best starts in program history, with two wins over top 25 teams. WSU is currently the second-place team in the Pac-12.

Part of the success story that Washington State has written thus far is due to the heroics of the freshman phenom Charlisse Leger-Walker.

Leger-Walker earned her fourth Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award, breaking the previous school record that was set by Borislava Hristova, more affectionately known as “Bobbi Buckets.”

“Those who know me, they know I don’t get too high or too low,” Leger-Walker said. “But it’s just one play at a time.”

Leger-Walker is the sixth-highest scorer in the Pac-12 and leads WSU in points scored. She is tied for first place with Arizona’s Aari McDonald for points per game, averaging 18.8. She also leads the Pac-12 in steals, averaging three per game.

Redshirt senior guard Krystal Leger-Walker, Charlisse’s older sister, is having herself quite the season as well, shooting 48.1% from the three, which is fifth in the Pac-12.

Junior forward Ula Motuga finds herself ranked second in the Pac-12 with a field goal percentage of 58.2 percent.

On the flip side, the USC Trojans (5-5, 3-5) are coming off back-to-back nail-biting victories at home against Utah and Colorado.

The matchup against WSU will be the third game in a five-game home stretch for the Trojans, who currently hold the seventh seed in the Pac-12.

USC averages 66.5 points per game, whereas WSU has averaged 70 points per game this season.

The Trojans are also ranked last in the conference when it comes to rebounding and have posted a less than stellar defensive performance, allowing an average of 67 points per game.

WSU’s defense has been the opposite of USC, allowing an average of only 61 points per game.

USC has swept WSU the past three seasons. The last time the Cougars took down the Trojans was in 2017 at home in Beasley Coliseum. The Cougars have not collected a win at USC in the Galen Center since 2014.

A win over Southern California would give Washington State their fourth straight road win over Pac-12 competition.

This game in Southern California sparks a four-game road trip for the Cougs that will take them through Los Angeles and Oregon over the next week and a half.

“We approach every game with the idea that every team is beatable,” Charlisse Leger-Walker said.

WSU’s offense is firing on all cylinders, and their defense is standing strong against the top opponents in the nation.

WSU women’s basketball has never collected a win as a ranked team, while USC is yet to snag a win against a top 25 opponent in the 2020-21 season.

One of those trends will come to an end on Friday, Jan. 15 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.  Tip-off is at 4:30 p.m., and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network Washington.