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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: WSU seniors go out with a 'W' at home

Feb. 27—Although this wasn't the regular season the Cougars envisioned back in October, the Washington State women's basketball team went out with a bang in their home finale Sunday at Beasley Coliseum.

The Cougars (17-12, 6-10 Pac-12) defeated Oregon 71-61 on senior day before holding a ceremony to honor their six seniors, most of whom have helped carry the program to its biggest heights over the last four years.

Charlisse Leger-Walker, Bella Murekatete, Johanna Teder, Jessica Clarke, Beyonce Bea and Ekin Celikdemir were honored in an emotional ceremony after the final buzzer.

All but Bea, who spent her first four seasons as a record-breaking player at the University of Idaho, were part of a four-year WSU run that featured three straight trips to the NCAA tournament during the 2020-23 seasons. That stretch included an underdog run in last year's Pac-12 tournament when the Cougars became the first team ever to win the championship as a No. 7 seed.

Prior to this senior class arriving, WSU had made just one NCAA tournament in its history.

But this year, it has failed to live up to the new expectations as injuries rattled the team.

Leger-Walker, an All-American and arguably the best WSU's women's hoops player of all time, tore her ACL in a Jan. 28 game against UCLA. Teder has missed the entire season with her own injury. And Celikdemir hasn't played since suffering a career-ending injury early in her career, instead helping out as a member of the team's support staff.

Even with all the injuries, this class has already left its mark in Pullman.

"Just couldn't be happier about (the win)," WSU coach Kamie Ethridge said. "Obviously you roll the dice when you have the ceremony after the game, but regardless I think that group is worthy of a lot of time and consideration and doing that thing really well. I appreciate everybody taking time to do that and the fans to stick around.

"Some of these people, it feels like they're a part of our family, my own family, and I just feel as close to them as anybody."

Leger-Walker and Teder could potentially return next season, but that hadn't been the plan for them, Ethridge said.

Topping the Ducks

In a game honoring WSU's seniors, it was the new generation of Cougs who took center stage during the game.

Sophomore point guard Astera Tuhina led with 24 points and five assists and freshman guard Eleonora Villa chipped in 20 points to power the Cougs.

"She really made them pay for how they guarded her," Ethridge said of Tuhina.

Bea added 10 points and seven rebounds as the other Cougar in double figures.

Phillipina Kyei had 23 points for Oregon (17-12, 6-10).

It was a game of runs early on with the Cougars using an 11-0 run to take a 25-14 lead behind seven points from Tuhina and a pair of Villa buckets. Then the Ducks went on a 10-0 run to get back within one, 25-24, early in the third quarter.

WSU's Tara Wallack and Tuhina combined for three 3s for a 9-0 run to go back up by double figures, 41-31, late in the third and hovered around a 10-point lead the rest of the way.

The Cougars shot at a 46.9% clip from the floor and turned nine turnovers into 16 points.

WSU will close out the regular season with a pair of ranked road games, starting with No. 18 Utah at 2 p.m. Thursday in Salt Lake City.

OREGON (11-18, 2-14)

Kyei 9-15 5-6 23, VanSlooten 7-16 2-6 16, Basham 6-9 2-2 14, Gray 2-17 1-2 5, Chamberlin 1-3 0-0 3, Wagner 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Rambus 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-61 10-16 61.

WASHINGTON STATE (17-12, 6-10)

Tuhina 10-14 0-0 24, E. Villa 7-17 4-4 20, Bea 5-9 0-0 10, Wallack 4-10 0-0 9, Murekatete 3-4 0-0 6, J. Villa 1-4 0-0 2, Clarke 0-2 0-0 0, Covill 0-2 0-0 0, Gardner 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 30-64 4-4 71.

Oregon 8 12 15 26—61

Washington State 10 15 26 20—71

3-point goals — Oregon 1-8 (Chamberlin 1-2, Gray 0-6); Washington State 7-20 (Tuhina 4-5, E. Villa 2-7, Wallack 1-3, J. Villa 0-3, Gardner 0-2). Rebounds — Oregon 38 (Kyei 15); Washington State 36 (Murekatete 9). Assists — Oregon 11 (VanSlooten 5); Washington State 14 (Tuhina 5). Total fouls — Oregon 9; Washington State 14. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none. Attendance — 1,331.