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WSU women ready to tip-off Pac-12 Tournament against shorthanded Utah

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March Madness has begun for the WSU women

PULLMAN, WA - FEBRUARY 28: Washington State forward Ula Motuga (15) stares down a Washington player during the second half of a Boeing Apple Cup Series matchup between the Washington Huskies and the Washington State Cougars on February 28, 2021, at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, WA. Jack Ellis/CougCenter

The Washington State women’s basketball program hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1991. This season, the Cougs are on the verge of breaking that streak. But they still have work to do before they get invited to the dance.

Right now, WSU is firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble. ESPN’s Charlie Creme has the Cougs as one of the last four teams in the projection, listing them as an 11-seed in the field. College Sports Madness, meanwhile, has WSU a little more secure, listing them as a 9-seed.

No matter what the bracketology says, the Cougs would much rather take things into their own hands.

They have the chance to do just that this week at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. The Cougs earned the 7-seed at the event, matching their highest seed in program history. They’ll hit the court for first round action tonight when they take on 10th seeded Utah tonight in a game WSU likely needs to win to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

The Utes enter tonight’s game with serious question marks. The team had to cancel their last game against Colorado last week due to COVID-19 issues. While they have been cleared to travel to Las Vegas and plan to play tonight, they will be without several players due to health and safety protocols. For obvious reasons, the program has declined to announce which players will be out of action.

It is worth pointing out that, according to conference policy, if the Utes had been forced to withdraw from the Tournament over the weekend, the remaining teams would have been re-seeded. However, the bracket became locked-in on Tuesday, meaning that if Utah (or any other team) is unable to play, their opponent will receive a bye into the next round.

For now, the Cougs are focused Utah. The two teams have faced off twice this season, with Washington State coming out on top both times. WSU picked up a 79-74 win in Salt Lake City on New Year’s day. Then, on February 21, the Cougars completed the sweep with a 68-55 win in Pullman. Pac-12 freshman of the year Charlisse Leger-Walker led the way for WSU in both games, combining for 55 points in the two victories.

She’ll look to lead her team to another win when WSU starts postseason play tonight against Utah. Tip off is set for 5 p.m. tonight in Las Vegas. You can watch it over on the Pac-12 Network.

Cougs Open the Pac-12 Tournament this Wednesday vs. Utah - Washington State University Athletics
LAS VEGAS – The Washington State women's basketball team begins its run in the 2021 Pac-12 Tournament, presented by New York Life, this Wednesday, March 3, as the No. 7-seeded Cougars take on No. 10 seed Utah. Tip-off from the Michelob ULTRA Arena is set for 5 p.m. PT and will air live on Pac-12 Network.

Seventh-seeded Washington State to open Pac-12 Tournament against 10th-seeded Utah | The Spokesman-Review
While many bracketologists already have Washington State penciled into the 2021 NCAA Tournament field, Kamie Ethridge and the Cougars still have another opportunity to make sure they'll be playing meaningful basketball two weeks from now.

Utah women’s hoops will play in Pac-12 Tournament after COVID scare, but will do so short-handed
The University of Utah women's basketball team had a COVID-19 scare, but will play in the Pac-12 Tournament beginning Wednesday against Washington State in Las Vegas.

Olympic Dreams: WSU's Leger-Walker sisters shoot for the Olympics | king5.com
The Leger-Walker sisters are working to get the WSU Cougars back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991.

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