Over the weekend, the Washington State Cougars enjoyed spending their Thanksgiving in the warm sun of Cancun, Mexico for the Cancun Challenge. A three-day, three-game tournament that put the Cougs against the Maryland Terrapins, UMass Minutemen and the Green Bay Phoenix.
While you were enjoying your morning coffee on Thanksgiving Thursday, Charlisse Leger-Walker and Bella Murekatete were already feasting on the Maryland Terrapins while making program history on the way. WSU drubbed Maryland after a rocky start, outscoring the Terps 67-36 in the final three quarters of play for the 87-67 victory. Leger-Walker dominated, recording her first career triple-double with career highs in rebounds (15) and assists (13) with 11 points in the scoring column. Murekatete’s four blocks in the game made her WSU’s career blocks leader with 159 and counting in her five seasons on the Palouse.
Leger-Walker, the tournament’s MVP, recorded the first tripe-double for the program since Penny Bowden did it in 1988 and the third ever.
Unlike the Black Friday deals, WSU’s offense didn’t drop from Thanksgiving. The Cougs shot a combined 53.8% from the field and had five Cougs reach double-digit points in a 90-48 blowout against the Minutemen. Leger-Walker finish one rebound short of a double-double, scoring 11 points. Elenora Villa led the team in scoring, coming off the bench with 15 points and a pair of treys.
In the tournament finale on Saturday, the offense finally came to a screeching halt against the Phoenix. WSU shot 34.6% from the field and just 21.7% from beyond the arc, scoring 48 points as a team. Green Bay’s 20-11 second quarter proved to be the difference as the Phoenix took the five-point lead into the half. The Cougars fought back throughout the third, tying the game twice, but never retook the lead. Green Bay led as much as 13 in the final quarter and held out for the 11 point lead, 59-48.
Despite the dud to end the tournament, WSU still looked extremely impressive in their first two games against a quality Maryland opponent and came up short against another quality opponent in Green Bay after a long weekend.
The Cougs will return back to the cold of the Palouse, but hope to keep their hot start to the season alive on Wednesday vs Texas A&M - Commerce.