Charlisse Leger-Walker leads Cougars To 2023 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Championship

Charlisse Leger-Walker shooting free throw (courtesy Washington State Athletic Communications)

March 05, 2023


LAS VEGAS — Charlisse Leger-Walker scored 23 points and Bella Murekatete added 21 to help Washington State earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament by beating No. 19 UCLA 65-61 in the Pac-12 Championship on Sunday.

It was the first-ever tournament championship for the Washington State women’s basketball program.

Up by three with just nine seconds left, Washington State Astera Tuhina got a piece of UCLA guard Charisma Osborne’s 3-point attempt to tie the game. With the arrow pointing their way, the Cougars took possession after a held ball on the rebound, and Tara Wallack hit one of two free throws with 5.1 seconds left to give Washington State a four-point lead to ultimately seal the victory.

Tuhina had six assists and Wallack added eight rebounds for the Cougars (23-10).

Osborne led the Bruins (25-9) with 19 points. Kiki Rice chipped in with 13 points, while Emily Bessoir added 11 for UCLA.

Washington State’s sustained its red-hot offense for the tournament by shooting 53.7% in the game, hitting 22 of 41 from the floor, including 7 of 11 (63.6%) from 3-point range.

The Cougars were the most efficient team in the tournament, draining 92 of 199 from the floor, a 46.2% clip.

UCLA came in as the highest-scoring team in the tournament averaging 74.3 points on 38.5% shooting after three games, but struggled to find any rhythm from the opening tip, suffocated by the tournament’s No. 1 scoring defense. The Bruins finished 22 of 60 (36.7%) from the floor and 26.3% (5 of 19) from 3-point range.

Though they held a four-point lead after one quarter, the Bruins came out shooting cold from the opening tip. They hit just 35% (7 of 20) in the first quarter, including 1 of 6 (16.7%) from 3-point range, and followed that with a 30.8% clip (4 of 13) in the second period.


Leger-Walker was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Other members of the Pac-12 All-Tournament team were: Murekatete (Washington State), Cameron Brink (Stanford), Emily Bessoir (UCLA), Osborne (UCLA), and Rice (UCLA).


Washington State: The Cougars are the first No. 7 seed to advance to the Pac-12 championship game. The previous lowest seed to make the championship round was the No. 6 seed, twice, in 2009 (USC) and 2022 (Utah).


Washington State: Earns the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.