While the Washington State Cougars (18-9, 10-6) women’s basketball team had gotten the slow paced game they wanted, a cold shooting night doomed them to a 61-54 loss to No. 2 Stanford (24-3, 15-0). The loss put an end to the Cougars five game winning streak and means that they need to complete the sweep against Cal to lock-up a first round bye in the conference tournament.
Krystal Leger-Walker and Ula Motuga drained three pointers within the last 45 seconds to cut the Cardinal lead down to eight. But ultimately the game was put out reach when Hannah Jump nailed a three pointer with 1:15 left to make it 61-48. Jump’s dagger came after a nearly minute long sretch where the Cougars and Cardinal had swapped buckets.
Motuga nailed a three and then Haley Jones followed that up with a jumper in the paint; which meant that WSU’s next bucket had to be a three and Charlisse Leger-Walker nailed it to cut Stanford’s lead to single digits. But that was followed-up by an easy layup from Cameron Brink — whom recorded a double-double at the start of the third quarter — to get the Cardinal’s lead back to double digits.
It was an insane stretch of action that had followed up nearly two minutes of neither squad being able to buy a bucket. And that was honestly the theme throughout the game as there would be a flurry of scoring followed by a long drought where neither side put points on the board.
The Cougars shot 31.8% from the field and 29.6% from beyond the arc in the loss. Stanford had done a fantastic job of keeping the ball away from Bella Murekatete throughout the bulk of the game and WSU’s offense struggled to find any points in the paint. That was honestly the difference in this game. While Charlisse led all scorers with 17 points, she was the only Coug to reach double digits. Meanwhile, Stanford had Jones, Jump, and Brink all north of 10 points on the night — the Cardinal shot 43.1% from the field and the 26.3% from three point range.
Jones was particularly effective from midrange, and this was demonstrated with her turnaround jumper at the end of the third quarter to make it 44-32 Cardinal. It had marked of a quarter that saw the WSU and Stanford exchange buckets in a flurry of activity in the first four minutes and then the final two minutes…with a long drought in between.
Murekatete’s first field goal of the game came with 5:13 left in the third quarter and it had cut the Cardinal’s lead to 11. That had come after Jana Van Gytenbeek had hit a second-chance layup to make their lead 13. Unfortunately for the Cougs, that stretch in the middle of the third quarter was indicative of how their shooting went all night with lots of rimmed out layups and too long three point attempts.
In what was a spluttering, offensively ineffective end to the first half, both squads struggled to score over the last five minutes. There was a combined seven points between Washington State and Stanford over that time frame. WSU’s last bucket of the half came when Charlisse picked off a pass from Van Gytenbeek and took it back to the rim for the easy layup. For Stanford, it came when Brink hit a layup as she was fouled by Murekatete and then the sophomore completed the and-one to make it 28-17 at the intermission.
Prior to the scoring drought, the second quarter had seen the Cardinal push their lead as high as 12 before Tara Wallack nailed a three pointer to cut it back to nine. But a jumper from Jump pushed it back out to 11. The Cougars would only be able to get within nine throughout the rest of the quarter as Stanford outscored them 10-7 in the second quarter.
As for the first quarter, that concluded with much more action as both sides combined for 11 points in the final two and a half minutes. Brink was instrumental as she scored four of Stanford’s final nine points in the first frame; the Cardinal had concluded the quarter with a 9-2 run. Krystal was the only Cougar to score a bucket in the final six minutes of the first quarter as the super senior’s squad struggled to find shots — and when they did get shots off, they didn’t fall.
The chaotic end to the first quarter followed a two minute stretch where neither Stanford or WSU were able to score. Hayley Jones had followed up a Teder jumper with an easy layup after she drove the lane to get the Cardinal a 9-8 lead with 4:47 left. It would take another 2:19 for another bucket to fall.
Stanford had scored the first bucket of the game when Anna Wilson drove the lane and hit a fairly easy layup after 1:24 had burned off the clock. Charlisse quickly followed that up with an uncontested three before Brink hit a second chance layup. That was followed up by a roughly 15-foot from Charlisse to get the Cougars the lead back. Murekatete became the first Cougar, not named Charlisse, to score when she hit the back end of a her two free throws. At that point Teder and Jones swapped buckets before the drought began.
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Photo Credit: Stanford women’s basketball