Women’s basketball pulls off historic win

Freshman guard Charlisse Leger-Walker led team in scoring with 28 points, seven three pointers



Junior forward Ula Motuga finished the game with six points.

DANIEL SHURR, Evergreen reporter

The WSU women’s basketball team stayed home this weekend and took on the No. 5 UCLA Bruins in a game that will be remembered for years, as the Cougars came out victorious 67-63.

The Cougars suffered a close overtime loss against the Bruins earlier this season, and this time they were out for revenge in an attempt to rebound from the tough back-to-back home losses against Stanford.

Rebound is exactly what the Cougs did, as the team pulled off its first-ever win over a team ranked in the AP Poll top five.

“When it gets down to it, there’s nothing greater than standing in front of your team after they’ve achieved something,” head coach Kamie Ethridge said.

The showdown started with a deep three by freshman phenom guard Charlisse Leger-Walker on the opening possession.

After the opening three, it took the Cougs three minutes to connect on another basket, which gave the Bruins time to build up a six-point lead.

The first three baskets of the game for WSU were all from three and they all left the hands of the five-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week, Charlisse Leger-Walker.

“It just feels great to get shots up and see the ball go in the hoop,” Charlisse Leger-Walker said.

Charlisse Leger-Walker is the team’s leading scorer on the season and was held to single-digit points in both games against the Stanford Cardinal.

Sophomore center Emma Nankervis was the second Coug of the day to connect on a shot, while redshirt senior guard Krystal Leger-Walker joined her sister Charlisse on the stat sheet with a corner three of her own.

UCLA led 22-16 after one quarter of play. An eleven-point quarter from Charlisse Leger-Walker helped the Cougs keep pace with the fifth-ranked Bruins.

“If it’s one-on-one, I trust Charlisse; we just didn’t get a lot of one-on-one looks against Stanford,” Ethridge said.

Krystal Leger-Walker started the second quarter on fire with five quick points of her own within the first 90 seconds of the frame.

That helped WSU to build up an 8-0 run and cut the Bruins’ lead to two.

A laser pass from sophomore guard Johanna Teder, followed by a clean layup from the freshman Leger-Walker tied the game at 29.

The Cougars took their first lead since the opening three from Charlisse with a layup from sophomore center Bella Murekatete, leaving 2:40 left in the half.

The Cougars outscored the Bruins 19-13 in the second quarter, but UCLA was able to regain some momentum off of two late free throws and tie the game at 35 apiece going into halftime.

It was a fairly clean first half, with less than ten total fouls in the first two quarters. A blocking foul in the first minute of the third sent UCLA to the line for two, draining one and giving the Bruins the lead.

A slick two-pointer by junior Ula Motuga gave WSU a lead once more.

“We’re going to fight and scratch, and try like crazy,” Ethridge said.

As the quarter progressed, it seemed like all the struggles that the Cougars had shooting the ball over the past weeks had vanished. A huge three-pointer by sophomore guard Grace Sarver gave the Cougs an eight-point lead.

WSU shot 50 percent in the third quarter, and the Cougs led the Bruins 52-45 going into the fourth.

Charlisse Leger-Walker scored the first points of the final quarter for the Cougs with two free throws, her first scores of the second half.

Both teams struggled to connect for the first few minutes of the fourth, but UCLA caught a breath of momentum and cut the WSU lead to four.

After back-to-back mistakes by the Cougs, UCLA tied it up at 56.

A two by Motuga gave WSU the lead back, but UCLA rattled in a three to establish a one-point lead with three minutes left.

Charlisse Leger-Walker eclipsed 20 points and tied the game once more, but the Cougs couldn’t get it done on defense and allowed the Bruins another quick two points.

“We’ll go back [in film study] and we’ll kick ourselves on some of the turnovers,” Ethridge said. “We have to be self-critical.”

Charlisse Leger-Walker’s seventh three of the game gave the Cougars a one-point lead in the final minute, and now the Cougars needed to play defense.

WSU pressured as hard as they could and forced an inaccurate shot by the Bruins, that fell right into the arms of junior guard Cherilyn Molina.

The Bruins fouled, leading to two more free throws by Charlisse, extending the Cougars’ lead to three with nine seconds left.

UCLA still had a chance, but the Cougars had Charlisse Leger-Walker, who rebounded the missed three-pointer and drained the final free throw to knock off the Bruins 67-63.

“No moment seems too big for her,” Ethridge said about Charlisse Leger-Walker.

The win was WSU’s first over a top-five ranked team in program history, and Ethridge is more than proud of what her team had just accomplished.

“[I’m] really proud of our team, I knew we had to rebound and bounce back after Stanford,” Ethridge said.

Charlisse Leger-Walker led the Cougs in scoring with 28 points, 12 of them coming from downtown. Her sister Krystal eclipsed double digits as well, and the WSU defense held firm, forcing 13 turnovers.

“This win puts the confidence back in our team to just know that we can get the job done,” Charlisse Leger-Walker said.