WSU comes up short in overtime thriller

Sunday’s game against UCLA was Cougars’ third straight overtime finish



Sophomore center Bella Murekatete squares up to a UCLA defender on Jan. 17.

DANIEL SHURR, Evergreen reporter

The WSU women’s basketball team lost to the No. 8 UCLA Bruins 68-66 in overtime on Jan. 17 in Pauley Pavilion.

The Cougars took the court against the Bruins on Sunday in hopes to rebound after a tough road loss to the USC Trojans that the team suffered on Sunday.

“It’s never fun to come this close and lose. We’ve had a lot of these,” head coach Kamie Ethridge said. “I don’t think we think we’re as good as the guys we’re playing.”

The game started with UCLA winning the opening tip-off, resulting in an easy two-pointer for the Bruins.

Sophomore center Bella Murekatete scored the first points of the game for WSU after a 7-0 run by UCLA to start the game.

Murekatete ended up scoring the first three buckets of the game for WSU, bringing the total to six points to start the contest.

The game’s first timeout sparked a 7-0 run by the Cougars following the break. That drug WSU out of their slow start to tie the game at 13.

Similar to the USC game, WSU got good looks at the basket, but simply couldn’t connect on their shots.

As the quarter went on, this misfortune led to the Bruins taking a 20-13 lead after one quarter.

The first two minutes of the second quarter went scoreless until UCLA capitalized off a WSU turnover and extended their lead to nine.

Once again, the Cougars moved the ball efficiently, but a “bend, don’t break” defense by the Bruins limited the Cougars on the board.

“We’re a young team, and we’re going up against so many different styles of play,” Ethridge said.

Halfway through the second quarter, sophomore center Emma Nankervis checked in for Murekatete, and matched her six points, leading the Cougars to a 6-0 run in three minutes.

WSU held UCLA scoreless for over half of the quarter, a small victory for the Cougars on defense. However, they couldn’t close the gap and take a lead on the road.

“There was a little bit of intimidation, a thought that we weren’t going to be able to run our offense,” Ethridge said. “Maybe I did that, but it’s a credit to UCLA.”

The Bruins started heating up in the final two minutes, as a free-throw finally broke the Bruins’ scoring drought and kickstarted another 6-0 run in favor of UCLA.

The Cougars struggled to finish the half and found themselves down 32-21 going into the break.

The 21 points in the first half for the Cougars is a new season-low, as a three cut the UCLA lead to single digits, but WSU failed to obtain a defensive stop and UCLA brought the lead back up to eleven in a matter of seconds.

UCLA neutralized the Leger-Walker sisters in the first half, holding freshman guard Charlisse to six points and redshirt senior guard Krystal scoreless.

That trend continued into the third quarter, but Charlisse helped WSU finally crack 30 points in the game with 2:43 left in the third.

Krystal Leger-Walker scored her first points of the game with a corner three after missing her first eight shots from the floor.

The third quarter came to a conclusion, with UCLA holding a comfortable 48-35 lead.

As seen in the previous two games, WSU is no stranger to being down by 10 plus points late in games.

The Cougars kept scratching and clawing, draining three buckets in a row, finding themselves only down two with three minutes remaining after being down 12 just moments ago.

The WSU defense played well, holding a team with two of the conference’s top five scorers to under 60 points.

Washington State held the Bruins scoreless through the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter, and after a Krystal Leger-Walker two, the Cougs completed yet another comeback, tying the game at 48.

UCLA ended their scoring drought with a minute and a half left, taking a one-point lead with a free throw.

Charlisse Leger-Walker had a shot at a three-point play but missed the free throw. However, the bucket made gave WSU their first lead of the game.

The home team responded with a three to take the lead right back, and with a minute left it was a whole new ball game.

Down two, Charlisse couldn’t connect inside the paint on a drive that would have tied the game. On the ensuing UCLA possession, a strong block by Murekatete denied UCLA’s leading scorer a chance to ice the game.

Now with 23 seconds left, down two and with possession of the ball, Ethridge had her team in position to win the game, or tie.

A missed Cougar possession, two quick timeouts, and a foul led to two UCLA free throws. That extended the Bruins’ lead to three.
Ethridge called her last timeout, two seconds left, and the Cougars needed a three to tie.

UCLA intentionally fouled, sending Charlisse to the line for two. She made her first and looked to intentionally miss the second. WSU needed a rebound, then a bucket.

A lot had to happen in two seconds, and a lot did happen. The miss by Charlisse, then the rebound by her sister Krystal, who put it up and in, tied the game at 53.

The Leger-Walker connection struck again, and for the third straight game, WSU was going to overtime.

UCLA struck first in OT with a three, but the heroics of Krystal Leger-Walker shone bright again as she matched UCLA with a three of her own.

An inside pass to Murekatete, after a strong defensive stance, gave the Cougars their second lead of the game, up two.

Two free throws by UCLA re-tied the game, this time at 58.

With three minutes left in overtime, Charlisse Leger-Walker connected for her first points of the “5th quarter.”

UCLA drained yet another three, regaining a one-point lead with a minute and a half to play.

Charlisse Leger-Walker isolated herself to take the lead, and the trend continued as UCLA snagged it right back. With under 30 seconds remaining, the Bruins extended their lead to four.

A possession that drained 23 precious seconds off the clock ended up resulting in a free throw by Charlisse Leger-Walker.

An intentional foul later, and UCLA was back at the line. Both free throws went in, which ended up sealing the game.

Sophomore guard Johanna Teder sunk a three at the buzzer, but it was no use, as WSU fell just short in overtime for the second game in a row, 68-66.

“You can’t expect miracles right away,” Ethridge said. “We’re going to get better.”

This puts the Cougars at a record of 7-3 (5-3) this season. They will stay on the road next week, as they pay a visit to the Oregon Ducks at 5:00 p.m. Jan. 22 on the Pac-12 Network.