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Bella Murekatete named Pac-12 co-most improved player, Leger-Walker sisters also pick up honors

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Three Cougs are taking home postseason all-conference honors... But there is one notable snub.

PULLMAN, WA - FEBRUARY 18: Washington State Cougars Women’s Basketball versus the Arizona State Sun Devils at Beasley Coliseum - Washington State center Bella Murekatete (55) Jack Ellis/CougCenter

The WSU women’s basketball team is in the midst of their most successful season in program history. Despite that success, however, the team wasn’t exactly well represented on Tuesday when the Pac-12 postseason honors were handed out. The program had three players (and zero head coaches) recognized by the conference ahead of the Pac-12 Tournament this week.

Pac-12 co-most improved player of the year Bella Murekatete headlined WSU’s list of honorees. Alongside Murekatete, Charlisse Leger-Walker was named to the all-conference squad while her sister Krystal Leger-Walker picked up a pair of honorable mention nods.

Murekatete has put up career numbers this year. The 6-3 junior is averaging more than 10 points, 7 boards and nearly 2 blocks per game this season, all of which are personal bests for the Rwanda-native. She also ranks within the top-5 conference wide in total rebounds (203) and blocks (48).

Murekatete shares the most improved honor with Jordyn Jenkins of USC. It’s the first year the conference has handed out the award.

The conference also announced the 15 player all-Pac-12 team. Charlisse Leger-Walker was the only WSU player to make an appearance on the squad. Krystal Leger-Walker was named an honorable mention to the all-conference team as well as an honorable mention on the all-defense team.

One name notably missing from the postseason honors was WSU head coach Kamie Ethridge. The fourth-year head coach has worked miracles in her short time with the Cougs. Ethridge took over a program that had just one winning season in nearly 25 years. Now, she’s led the team to back-to-back winning campaigns and has them on the verge of the NCAA Tournament for the third time ever, and the second time in as many seasons. This year, the Cougs picked up 19 overall wins, including 11 in conference play, setting new program records in both categories.

Instead of Ethridge, the conference gave the award to the Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, giving the winningest head coach in the history of women’s hoops the conference coach of the year honor for a 17th time.

But no matter how many honors the team picked up this season, there is still work to do on the court. The Cougs are on the bubble for another tournament berth, with ESPN placing the team in their “last four byes” category. They can go a long way toward playing their way into the dance this week when the Pac-12 Tournament tips off in Las Vegas. WSU earned a first round bye and will start their March Madness journey as a 3-seed on Thursday night against either Utah or Cal.

Murekatete Named Pac-12 Co-Most Improved Player of the Year - Washington State University Athletics
SAN FRANCISCO – The Pac-12 Conference announced Tuesday, March 1, that Washington State junior Bella Murekatete has been named the inaugural Pac-12 Conference Most

2021-22 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball All-Conference honors and Annual Performance Awards, presented by Nextiva | Pac-12
In a vote of the the league's 12 head coaches, Stanford's Haley Jones has been chosen the 2021-22 Pac-12 Women's Basketball Player of the Year; teammate Cameron Brink was voted the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Commentary: Kamie Ethridge lifted Washington State to new heights, but is snubbed for Pac-12 coach of the year | The Spokesman-Review
Kamie Ethridge built a strong case last season for Pac-12 coach of the year. She didn’t win the award but very well could have after guiding Washington State’s women’s basketball team out of obscurity and into the NCAA Tournament field.

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