Cougars stall Utes in Las Vegas

WASHINGTON State has caused a massive upset in the NCAA women’s basketball by taking down third seeds Utah in an eight-point victory. The Cougars took down the Utes 66-58 in front of a lively crowd at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.

Though Washington State entered the game with a solid 20-10 record, few would have predicted an upset over the 25-3 Utes. The game started as many would expect, with Utah on top in the game, taking a three-point lead into the first break. That grew to four by half-time, and it looked like everything was going to plan.

That was until the deep Washington State attack went to town. The combination of Ula Motuga, Tara Wallack, Bella Murekatete and Charlisse Leger-Walker all produced multiple baskets in the quarter, for the Cougars to double their score and suddenly boast a 12-point lead.

Though Utah gave the Cougars a scare in the final term, drawing within three points with less than a minute to go, a three-pointer from Leger-Walker with just eight seconds on the clock sealed the match. Motuga would nail an additional two free throws to extend the final margin out to eight points in a 66-58 win.

Washington State arguably could have won by more, with an easy advantage in the rebounds (35-28) and assists (18-10). The depth of the offensive unit was on show, with Leger-Walker draining four of seven from long-range on her way to 15 points, five assists and three rebounds, but could only manage one of seven from inside the arc.

Motuga was also a threat from three-point range, with three of four going in, as she tallied up eight rebounds and three assists with her 13 points. Murekatete was influential close to the basket, with the number five collecting a team-high 19 points, as well as having five rebounds, and shooting at 50 per cent from the field.

Gianna Kneepkens was the key shooter for the Utes, putting up 18 points – four of eight from outside the arc – as well as three rebounds and two assists, while Alissa Pili finished with 11 points. Teya Sidberry (Seven points, five rebounds and three steals) tried hard from 19 minutes on court, but there were not enough contributors across the board.

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