In one of the most improbable weekends in college basketball history, Washington State won the women’s Pac-12 conference tournament championship Sunday in Las Vegas, edging No. 16 UCLA, 65-61, to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament later this month.
What made the Cougars’ championship so improbable?
- It was the first-ever tournament championship for the Washington State women’s basketball program.
- It was the first basketball championship for the school period in 82 years since the men’s team won the Pac-12 regular-season title in the 1940-41 season.
- Washington State won the tournament with victories over three ranked teams: No. 4 Utah, No. 21 Colorado and No. 16 UCLA.
- The Cougars were the first No. 7 seed to even advance to the women’s Pac-12 championship game.
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Charlisse Leger-Walker scored 23 points and Bella Murekatete added 21 to lead the Cougars (23-10) and were named to the All-Tournament team.
Washington State, whose offense was red-hot all weekend, shot 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 made its own history, becoming just the second No. 5 seed to make the title game and making the 2023 tournament the first with no Top-4 seed playing in the final. The previous lowest seed to make the championship round was the No. 6 seed, twice, in 2009 (USC) and 2022 (Utah).
Charisma Osborne led UCLA (25-9) with 19 points, Kiki Rice chipped in with 13 and Emily Bessoir added 11. All three Bruins were named to the All-Tournament team. UCLA defeated 20th-ranked Arizona in the quarterfinals and No. 5 Stanford in the semifinals.
Contributing: The Associated Press