For the second season in a row, the Washington State Cougars (18-8, 10-5) women’s basketball team knocked off No. 8 Arizona (19-4, 9-5) 72-67 for a resume building win. Junior Johana Teder led all scorers with 21 points, it was her second straight 20+ point game, as the Cougars moved ahead of Arizona in the conference standings
Teder put the game out of reach when she drilled a three pointer from the corner opposite WSU’s bench and then followed it up with a layup after she drove the lane on the next possession to make it 65-58. The junior was then sent to the line on the Cougs’ next possession and she sank both free throws to make it a nine point game with 50 seconds left. At that point it became a game of free throws as the Wildcats frequently stopped the clock; Washington State missed only one free throw down the stretch as it held on for the 72-65 win.
Washington State closed the game out by outscoring Arizona 12-7 in the final two minutes to secure the win. Senior Krystal Leger-Walker was the last Cougar, not named Johana Teder, to score from the field when she hit a second-chance layup with 6:20 left in the final quarter.
Arizona’s defense really began to struggle once Cate Reese went down with (what appeared to be) a dislocated shoulder after she and Teder tangled up going for a rebound. Reese had also been a major cog in the Wildcats’ offensive attack as she’d hit 57.1% of her shots from the field and 67% of her three point attempts at that point. Her absence on the court was easy to spot as the Wildcats’ line-up became much shorter and struggled to create shots once she left.
Until that Reese was hurt, the Wildcats had been on the way back into the game after trailing by three possessions throughout much of the fourth quarter. Arizona had been on a 6-2 run that had cut WSU’s lead down to two…that is until Teder went on her 5-0 run to force UA to foul.
Charlisse Leger-Walker had put Washington State in the driver seat at the end of the third quarter thanks to a pair of layups, and a second-chance jumper by Krystal, to power Washington State to a 6-2 run to close out the third frame and make it 50-45 headed into the final quarter. Throughout that quarter both Teder and Reese traded buckets as neither defense had an answer for the two; both Teder and Reese combined for four straight buckets in the middle of the quarter.
Junior Bella Murekatete scored the first four points for Washington State out of the half time locker room to take the lead. The Cougars would stay in the lead until Koi Love’s layup made it 38-37 with 6:45. That would be the last lead in the game No. 8 Arizona would have as Murekatete drained a layup to make it 39-38 and then Teder would follow that up with a fast break layup with 6:03 to take the lead back for good.
The first half had been a back and forth affair that ended with the Wildcats taking a 33-31 lead into the locker room. Neither squad could gain separation as both defenses were on point for the most part. Arizona had outscored the Cougars 18-17 in the first quarter and 15-14 in the second. But the Cougars had a 19-12 advantage in the third quarter and that was the deciding frame.
Washington State had four players score in double figures; Charlisse with 15, Krystal with 12, Murekatete with 16, and Teder with 21. As for the Wildcats, they also had four in double digits; Reese and Sam Thomas both had ten while Love scored 12 and Maddison Conner led Arizona with 15.
For Washington State, this is the signature win that their resume had lacked throughout much of the season. It also marks the second straight season where the Cougars upended Arizona to put themselves firmly into the NCAA Tournament discussion. Thanks to this victory, the Cougars have moved into third place in the Pac-12 play and now are three games up over fifth place which means that they’ll likely have a first round bye in the conference tournament.
The 18 wins also marks a tie for the regular season high, with two more games left (and that includes a very winnable road game against Cal).
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Photo Credit: Washington State Athletic Communications