For the third time in program history, and the consecutive season, the Cougar women’s basketball program his headed to the Big Dance. Washington State’s program high 19-wins was enough to earn them a No. 8 seed as the Cougs will face the ninth seeded Kansas State Wildcats in the first round of the Bridgeport Region.
Ayoka Lee is Kansas State’s top scorer and arguably its most dangerous athlete. The junior leads her squads in points, rebounds, and blocks per game. Lee has also averaged 30.9 minutes per game as well, second most on the roster outside of Serena Sundell (a true freshmen). The Wildcats were bounced out of the Big 12 tournament by Texas with a 72-65 loss; they finished the season with a 19-12 record. Kansas State’s biggest win came against No. 10 Baylor at home.
Washington State’s 19 wins are the most in the NCAA era, and the program’s most since 1978. The Cougars biggest win of the season was against No. 8 Arizona on Senior Night, where Johanna Teder popped off for 21 points in route to a conference player of the week award. Charlisse Leger-Walker is the Cougars’ leading scorer, but the offense works best when Teder and Bella Murekatete are scoring as well.
That eighth seed is also the highest seed WSU has ever had in the NCAA Tournament. WSU’s first appearance in the Big Dance was as an 11 seed in 1991; that squad was bounced by the sixth seeded Northwestern Wildcats, 82-62. In the 2021 Tournament, the Cougs were a nine seed and lost to eighth seeded USF 57-53.
With the selection, head coach Kamie Ethridge becomes the first women’s basketball coach in Washington State history to lead the program to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. Ethridge is only the second WSU basketball coach to take their program to two straight NCAA Tournaments; the first was former men’s basketball head coach Tony Bennett back in 2007 and 2008.
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Photo Credit: Washington State athletic communications