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WSU avenges loss, splits Apple Cup, in 72-59 win over Washington

Cougs get big game from freshman to get past Huskies.

Ashley Davis

After falling to the Washington Huskies earlier in the season, the Washington State Cougars secured a split in this years Apple Cup Series, defeating the Huskies in Seattle 72-59.

Freshman Ele Villa led the way for WSU (12-5, 1-3 in Pac-12), scoring 16 points — 13 in the second half — and grabbed three rebounds. Behind Villa’s big second half, WSU outscored UW (11-4, 1-3) 61-41 in the last three quarters of the game.

UW’s offense looked ready for the noon tipoff time, coming out red-hot from the field. The Huskies knocked down all five of their first five shots of the game to quickly race out to a 10-point lead. As UW’s shooting began to regress to the mean, WSU chipped into the deficit. Ele cashed in a triple, Jessica Clarke retrieved her own miss for a pair of second chance points and Leger-Walker capped the 6-2 run with a jumper.

The Huskies kept WSU from breaking within five into the second quarter, until fellow freshman Jenna Villa (no relation to Ele) knocked home back-to-back triples to bring the Cougs within a point. Kyra Gardner handed WSU their first lead with a trey of her own on WSU’s next possession. As the Huskies and Cougs jockeyed for the lead down the final minutes of the first half, Bella Murekatete pushed the Cougs ahead into halftime with an offensive board for the buzzer beating second chance points.

Offensive rebounds were a big reason WSU was able to take the halftime lead. While WSU only corralled one more offensive rebound than UW did, WSU outscored the Huskies 7-0 in second chance points. Their success on second opportunities rolled into the second half.

Tara Wallack collected the teams sixth offensive rebound and put it right back up and in for their eighth and ninth second chance points of the game. The Wallack bucket sparked a momentum changing run for the Cougs. Ele knocked home a two-point jumper and while Dalayah Daniels answered with a three, the senior duo of Murekatete and Charlisse Leger-Walker teamed up for a turnaround jumper inside and a trey respectively. Beyonce Bea made it a 9-2 run with a steal and layup on the other end to put WSU up by eight. Bea later pushed it out to a 10-point lead with a layup after yet another WSU offensive rebound.

Daniels helped will her team back within four points after scoring the next 12 points for the Huskies, but her lone offensive output wasn’t enough to survive the offensive onslaught brought on by WSU in the fourth quarter. A 13-4 run from the Cougars, anchored by six points from Ele, surged WSU up to a 13-point lead with under five to go. The run included a pair of WSU offensive rebounds, including an all-out effort from Leger-Walker to collect a loose ball before it went out of bounds and whip it perfectly to Ele.

As the Go Cougs chants echoed in Hec-Ed, the Huskies couldn’t put the pieces back together as WSU countered every punch they threw. UW couldn’t break back within nine as the Cougars sealed off the 13-point win. The Cougars finished the game with 17 second-chance points on 11 offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, the Huskies collected eight offensive rebounds and managed just two second-chance points.

The win now makes WSU 9-3 against UW since Kamie Ethridge took over in the 2018-19 season.

WSU will now return home for a weekend series against the Arizona schools, beginning with the Arizona State Sun Devils on Friday.