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WSU can’t overcome slow start, falls to BYU 71-53

The Pullman Cougs put up a fight, but couldn’t get over the hump.

PULLMAN, WA - DECEMBER 12: Washington State Women’s Basketball versus the Boise State Broncos at Beasley Coliseum - Charlisse Leger-Walker (5) Jack Ellis/CougCenter

The Washington State Cougars couldn’t overcome an early first half deficit, falling to the No. 20 BYU Cougars 71-53.

WSU (8-2) trailed by as many as 15 in the first half. A barrage of threes pulled WSU back into the game, getting within a point with just over nine minutes to go. BYU (9-1) would pull away in the final nine minutes with a 24-7 run.

Washington State started the game by scoring their first 20 points from either beyond the arc or from the free throw line. The first WSU 2-point field goal was scored nearly 18 minutes into the game. At halftime, WSU was just 1/13 (7.7%) from inside the arc but only trailed BYU by eight. Despite three fouls in the first quarter, Charlisse Leger-Walker still had nearly half of the WSU’s first half points with 14 of the Cougars’ 29.

The barrage of WSU threes continued into the second half. The first nine points of the half all came from threes by Charlisse, Ula Motuga and Krystal Leger-Walker. WSU limited BYU to just 10 points in the third quarter, but could only put up two points outside of the three 3-pointers.

Just under a minute into the 4th, Johanna Teder would knock home the 11th three of the game for WSU and Charlisse would set a personal best with her sixth 3-pointer of the game almost 30 seconds later to pull the Cougars within a point. The WSU offense went ice cold for the rest of the quarter, missing their next seven straight 3-point attempts. BYU’s offense woke up during this stretch, going on a 16-6 run with a pair of threes of their own.

Kaia Woods got to make her collegiate debut for WSU after enrolling just days prior. Woods is a 5’3 guard who was able to reclassify to the class of 2021 after her high school, Royal Crown Academy, had to cancel the season due to the pandemic.

WSU ended up shooting over four times as many threes (13) as they did twos (3) and fell just one three short of tying the program record for most threes made in a game as a team. Charlisse led all scorers with 21 points.

Washington State will have to quickly erase this game from their memory as they tip off in Stony Brook, New York less than 24 hours after the final horn sounded in Provo, Utah. The Cougars were originally supposed to play Cornell on Sunday, but COVID issues inside the Big Red program cancelled the game.