We had 11 video games in 5 days and ultimately, Washington State got here out on high towards UCLA, 65-61, to win their first Pac-12 Tournament title and did in order a No. 7 seed. A seed that low has by no means made the ultimate and now a No. 7 seed has received.
The Cougars go the place Charlisee Leger-Walker takes them. Sunday night time that was towards a street by no means traveled on a path she blazed herself. She was dominant, scoring 23 factors on 7-of-11 taking pictures, and likewise led the staff in rebounds with seven.
Leger-Walker shined, however Bella Murekatete was proper there too with 21 factors, 4 rebounds and two blocks. This guard-center combo labored like a dream and Washington State street all of it the best way to glory in Las Vegas.
The sport was shut all through. No staff ever led by double digits and even in defeat, the Bruins acquired a 21-point effort from Charisma Osborne and 13 from Kiki Rice. The sport’s turning level got here within the second quarter when the Cougars went on a 16-5 run to finish the primary half. That gave Washington State momentum and a four-point benefit on the break.
UCLA battled on within the third and even took a one-point lead halfway via the quarter, however Leger-Walker and Murekatete exchanged baskets to present the Cougars again the lead getting into the fourth.
Within the closing quarter, Washington State closed the door on UCLA. They by no means gave up the lead and with 5 minutes left, Murekatete scored a pair of baskets and Leger-Walker hit a jumper to present the Cougars an eight-point benefit, their largest of the night time. It was a championship efficiency and as soon as a desperation Rice three was missed and recovered by Leger-Walker, the efficiency matched the outcome, and Washington State secured the historic win.
Earlier than the tournament began, I stated solely 5, possibly six groups might realistically win it. I did not have Washington State on that checklist.
I used to be flawed.
The Cougars jogged my memory, and all of us, that when you play strong protection and have a few star gamers, you at all times have an opportunity. Leger-Walker and Murekatete are star gamers and have been one of the best variations of themselves all week.
For UCLA, the loss will certainly sting, however there should be some positives from this match. They beat Arizona and Stanford in video games they have been underdogs in and so they have been only a play or two away from their most important aim. Now it is time for the Large Dance and never many groups raised their inventory this week greater than the Bruins.
Washington State successful is a testomony to how good the Pac-12 is from high to backside and it’s extremely seemingly lots of its groups shall be enjoying late into the month. For now, Washington State will rejoice its championship as we wait to seek out out who shall be seeded the place on Sunday in the course of the Choice Present at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.