Going into the season, everyone would have expected a game between the Arizona Wildcats and Oregon Ducks to be for second place in the league. What few expected was for Arizona to be playing Washington State for that honor with more than a quarter of the season played. Yet, here they were.
It looked like it would be no-contest, as Arizona rushed out to a double-digit lead in the first half. The Cougars showed why they’re a threat, though, by coming out of the half and taking it to the Wildcats. An Arizona collapse in the second half gave the Cougars their first win over a Top 10 team since 2017 with the 71-69 victory in overtime.
Reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week Charlisse Leger-Walker sank a reverse layup in the final seconds.
With the win, Washington State claimed sole possession of second place in the Pac-12 at 5-1 in the conference and 7-1 overall. Arizona fell to 6-2 in league play and 8-2 overall.
Cate Reese came out on a mission, scoring seven of the Wildcats’ first nine points, but it was All-American Aari McDonald who controlled the things for most of the first half.
McDonald came on strong with 13 points in the first half as Reese sat out 10 minutes with foul trouble. With a half still to go, McDonald had her 76th straight game in double figures. She was also leading the game in assists and tied for the lead in rebounds.
McDonald wrapped things up with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists, but also six turnovers.
On the defensive end, the Wildcats were holding the Cougars’ star freshman in check over the first half, allowing just three points on 1-4 shooting over the first 10 minutes.
WSU wasn’t ready to let it go, though. The Wildcats’ efficiency cratered in the third quarter. After shooting 48.4 percent in the first half, they shot 5-14 in the third quarter and 8-30 in the second half.
Sam Thomas did most of the scoring in the third, but was hit by her fourth foul in the first 20 seconds of the fourth.
It only got worse in the fourth, as Arizona’s only scoring in the first five minutes was a pair of free throws from Trinity Baptiste. At the 4:55 media timeout, WSU had closed the gap to a single bucket.
Meanwhile, Charlisse Leger-Walker was getting to the free throw line. The outstanding freshman went 3-4 from the line in the second half, scoring 10 in the final 20 minutes of regulation. She ended the day with 17 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists.
Krystal Leger-Walker had 14 points, 4 rebounds and 9 assists, showing the danger of the sister duo.
After two missed free throws by Reese and a mere five seconds on the clock, Charlisse drove to the hoop and tied it up. Overtime.
There would be no Thomas for the final five minutes, and the Cougars would also be without Bella Murekatete, who led WSU with 14 points in regulation. Both fouled out in the fourth.
It was all Cougars to start overtime. They built a five-point lead. McDonald tied things up with two free throws with 10.5 seconds to go before Leger-Walker’s last-second heroics.
This story will be updated with quotes and video.