WSU (13-5, 2-3 in Pac-12) returned back to Beasley Coliseum for the first time in 34 days and looked very comfortable, holding ASU (8-10, 0-6) scoreless for a majority of the first quarter. The Cougar defense helped give the offense plenty of time to build a comfortable 18-point lead that the Sun Devils could never really put a dent in.
Excited to be back in the home gym, WSU flew out of the starting gate and scored the first points four seconds in after Bella Murekatete tipped the opening jump forward to Charlisse Leger-Walker behind the Sun Devil defense for the easy bucket. The quick two points proved to just be a taste of what was to come. Murekatete and Beyonce Bea both knocked down a free throw each to get the lead to 4-0 and following Journey Thompson’s second travel in a minute, Tara Wallack cashed in a trey while being fouled for the four-point play to double the Cougar lead.
The Cougars proceeded to attack the paint with Leger-Walker, Murekatete, Bea and Alex Covill each zipping past the Sun Devil defense for buckets and suddenly the Cougs found themselves up 18 before even allowing the Sun Devils to score once with 5:12 already off the clock.
It wasn’t like ASU was just missing open shots, WSU’s defense smothered the Sun Devil offense. WSU forced a trio of early steals, converting on all three and good close outs on defense helped play a hand in the Sun Devils missing their first five shots and holding them without a field goal for seven minutes. Jalyn Brown finally put a number on the other side of the scoreboard at the 4:33 mark with a free throw and landed ASU’s first field goal a few possessions later.
ASU rolled the momentum into the second quarter as WSU’s offense began to sputter and become lackadaisical to pull back within single digits at nine. But, WSU held their ground. The Cougars countered ASU’s 21-12 run with a bucket or two for every one of ASU’s down the stretch of the second quarter to prevent the Sun Devils from breaking within eight before half.
The Sun Devils finally cut the deficit to eight on back to back triples to open the half, but the Cougars continued to block every haymaker attempt and counter with a jab of their own. Wallack and Leger-Walker answered the Sun Devils early second half punches with a combined 6-0 run to put WSU back up 15.
Wallack’s presence hadn’t just been felt on the offensive end. The Junior hailing from Canada was relentless on the defensive side, swatting away three Sun Devil shots in the first half and one more for good measure in the second to tie her career high in blocks. She polished off her fantastic night with one more trey as WSU set the game into cruise control for the final quarter.
WSU will close out the home weekend on Sunday afternoon against the Arizona Wildcats.