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WSU women’s basketball picked to finish fifth in Pac-12 preseason poll

The reigning Pac-12 Tournament champs are looking to run it back in the final year of the Conference of Champions (as we know it).

Ashley Davis

Last season, the Cougar women’s basketball team shocked the world. Despite finishing seventh in the Pac-12 regular season, the Cougs got on a roll and never got off. WSU won three of their last four in Pac-12 play and then won four in-a-row in Las Vegas to seal the first Pac-12 Tournament championship in school history.

That was fun. But, in the words of Bella Murekatete, it’s time to put that memory aside and “focus on going back-to-back.”

This week Murekatete, along with head coach Kamie Ethridge and All-American guard Charlisse Leger-Walker, returned to the scene of last season’s conference tournament victory for Pac-12 media day in Las Vegas. Before meeting with the media, the Cougs received word that they had been picked to finish fifth in both the Pac-12 preseason coaches and media polls. Utah, UCLA, Stanford and Colorado (in that order) were picked ahead of WSU in both polls.

After one of the best seasons in program history, all signs point to the Cougs keeping that momentum rolling this season. The team returns eight players, including four starters from that Pac-12 Championship team. Those returners include Leger-Walker and Murekatete, both of which were named to the preseason all-Pac-12 squad. Ethridge, who was named national coach of the year by the The Athletic, is also back on the bench following her run as the head coach for the 2023 USA women’s AmeriCup team.

Once again, Leger-Walker figures to compete for another spot on the All-American team. The senior guard averaged 17.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season. Murekatete, a fifth-year senior, averaged nearly 14 points per game last season.

Of course, with the season right around the corner, the Cougs will be all business at practice. But, since they’re in Vegas for media day, Leger-Walker and Murekatete found sound time to have a little fun. My favorite post featured the return of a familiar friend: the Pac-12 Tournament Championship trophy.

And, of course, no matter the sport, the BFF relationship between the Cougs and Beavers thrives. Women’s basketball will be no different this season.

The Cougs will start their quest for a second straight conference crown with an exhibition game on October 29 against Montana Tech. They’ll tip things off for real just over a week later on November 6 when Cal Poly visits Beasley Coliseum as part of a doubleheader alongside the WSU men who will play host to Idaho.

Cougars Picked Fifth in Preseason Pac-12 Poll - Washington State University Athletics
The fifth-place section matches the best preseason pick in program history.

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