WSU women dig out of hole, take down San Francisco

Washington State senior forward Ula Motuga shoots during Thursday’s nonconference game against San Francisco at Beasley Coliseum. She finished with 12 points in the Cougars’ win against the Dons.

PULLMAN — The Washington State women’s basketball team found itself in an early hole thanks to its inability to hit shots.

The final 30 minutes were a different story.

The Cougars went 22-of-42 (52.4 percent) from the field in the final three quarters, holding San Francisco to just 33 percent shooting overall for the game in a 72-58 nonconference victory Thursday at Beasley Coliseum.

“I’m excited that we got ourselves straight in the second through the fourth quarters,” WSU coach Kamie Ethridge said. “I thought it was a team that lacked confidence in the first quarter, just coming off how we played against North Carolina State. I think you saw a nervous team and a team that was very unsure of where the points were going to come from. I think when we got more physical, and decided to kind of join the battles that were going on on the court and not play with so much finesse, I think the game really changed for us. It was good to see our team gain confidence as the game went on.”

Sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker had a game-high 27 points and added three steals for Washington State (5-1). Junior center Bella Murekatete added 16 points and eight rebounds before fouling out. Senior forward Ula Motuga, who missed some time recently with a knee injury, came off the bench for 12 points and nine rebounds.

“I definitely felt it, being out for a bit,” Motuga said. “It took a toll on me, but it was good being back out on the floor with everyone, slowly getting into things, and having to adjust to playing a bigger load than what I initially thought, my lungs were working overtime today.”

Ioanna Krimili tallied 17 points and five rebounds for the Dons (4-4), who were 19-for-57 from the field. Jasmine Gayles had 15 points and Amalie Langer added 14.

The Cougars came out flat, hitting just 3 of their first 15 shots in the first 10 minutes of the game to find themselves down 16-11 at the end of the first quarter. It wasn’t like the Dons were any ­better, going 4-for-14 (28.6 percent). But they made half of their six 3-point attempts in taking the lead.

The second quarter didn’t start much better for the Cougs. San Francisco scored the first seven points, capping the run with a 3 from Langer that put the Dons in front 23-11 at the 7:40 mark. From there, Washington State ended the period on a 19-4 run, including a string of 10 points, for a 30-27 edge at halftime.

The Cougars went up 38-30 just three minutes into the third on four points by Murkatete and a 3-pointer from senior Krystal Leger-Walker. San Francisco then scored the next four points to get within four, but Washington State scored 12 of the final 14 points of the period in taking a 50-36 lead into the fourth.

“Some things went wrong for us in the first half, and we just spoke about being able to adjust and being able to fix those things in the second half,” Motuga said. “It shows the grittiness of everyone on this team.”

The Cougars held a lead as large as 16 and the Dons could get no closer than eight the rest of the way.

Washington State next plays at 4 p.m. Saturday at UC Davis.

SAN FRANCISCO (4-4)

Kostic 0-2 0-0 0, Rathbun 1-2 1-2 3, Krimili 6-16 2-2 17, Langer 3-6 7-8 14, McDowell-White 1-6 0-0 2, Dickie 2-9 3-4 7, Gayles 6-10 0-1 15, Vaalavirta 0-3 0-0 0, Langarita 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 19-57 13-17 58

WASHINGTON ST. (5-1)

Murekatete 8-15 0-0 16, Charlisse Leger-Walker 8-16 6-7 27, Krystal Leger-Walker 3-9 0-1 7, Teder 0-4 7-9 7, Wallack 1-4 0-0 2, Motuga 5-9 1-1 12, Clarke 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 25-57 15-20 72

San Francisco 16 11 9 22 — 58

Washington St. 11 19 20 22 — 72

3-Point Goals: San Francisco 7-25 (Gayles 3-5, Krimili 3-10, Langer 1-2, Vaalavirta 0-1, Langarita 0-1, McDowell-White 0-3, Dickie 0-3), Washington St. 7-21 (C.Leger-Walker 5-10, Motuga 1-3, K.Leger-Walker 1-5, Teder 0-3). Rebounds: San Francisco 34 (Dickie 6), Washington St. 41 (Motuga 9). Assists: San Francisco 7 (McDowell-White 3), Washington St. 12 (K.Leger-Walker 5). Fouled Out: Murekatete, K.Leger-Walker. Total Fouls: San Francisco 21, Washington St. 23. A: 785.