The Washington State Cougars (8-1) overcame a hot shooting start from the Boise State Broncos in a 62-55 comeback win on Sunday afternoon in Pullman.
After Boise State (3-6) shot a red-hot 64% from the field in the first half, the Cougar defense limited the Bronco offense to just 35% in the second half and outscored the Broncos 33-17. The offensive rebounding was the story for the Cougars who reeled in 42.5% of their misses.
The Broncos began the game knocking down 73% of their first quarter shots. Broncos sophomore forward Elodie Lalotte had 10 of the Broncos 24 first-quarter points, leading the Broncos to a 24-16 advantage at the end of the first 10 minutes of play.
WSU’s defense picked up in the 2nd quarter, causing the Bronco offense to come to a standstill for over five minutes. The defense allowed the Cougars to slowly crawl their way back into the game and take the lead on an Ula Motuga layup with three and a half minutes to go. The lead was short-lived as the Bronco offense woke back up and finished the half on a 10-0 run to take a 38-29 lead into the locker room.
The halftime break seemed to cool off the Bronco offense. They scored just nine points in the third quarter while WSU went on a tear. It was Krystal Leger-Walker who did most of the damage in the first half with a team-high 10 points, but it was her sister Charlisse Leger-Walker who got it going in the second half. Charlisse collected 10 of the Cougars 22 points in the third quarter to send WSU into the final quarter with a 51-47 lead.
Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net throughout the fourth quarter. Going back-and-forth with WSU keeping Boise State at a five point distance for a majority of the 10 minutes. The Broncos pulled within three with under two minutes to play and got a chance to tie with 39.4 seconds left but Charlisse Leger-Walker played the hero again—poking the ball free and running away with the ball and the game for a dagger layup. Motuga dove on a loose ball seconds later to seal the victory for Washington State.
Charlisse Leger-Walker led all players in scoring with 23 points, 19 of which came in the second half. Bella Murekatete added 15 of her own, helped by a perfect seven for seven from the free throw line.
The Cougars will have nearly a week to prepare for their matchup against their fellow Cougars of the BYU variety in Provo on Saturday morning. The layoff won’t be nearly as long after that—the Cougs face Cornell in Ithaca, New York the very next day.