January 15, 2024
Washington State wins Apple Cup over Washington
The Huskies struggled to find offensive rhythm against the Cougars
SEATTLE — The sun was shining on Sunday, a rarity during the typically gray Pacific Northwest winter season. A golden orb in the sky brought a gift of extra vitamin D and improved moods. Without the omnipresent cloud blanket, it also came with the lowest temperatures in the Emerald City in decades. The frigid air didn’t stop 4,104 fans from trekking to Alaska Airlines Arena, where Washington State University would beat Washington University 72-59 in the latest women’s basketball edition of the Apple Cup.
When Washington and Washington State sports teams compete against each other, these games are colloquially known as the Apple Cup. The rivalry began in 1900, when only the football teams were included. Now expanded to include additional sports, Washington’s women’s basketball team (11-4) hosted Washington State (12-5) for the last time as members of the same conference. Next season, Washington will play in the Big Ten, while Washington State’s future remains unclear as the Pac-12 Conference dissolves.
Both teams entered Sunday’s meeting following three-game losing streaks on the road, both with losses to eighth-ranked Stanford. In their previous matchup, on Dec. 10, Washington won 60-55 over Washington State, which was ranked 21st in the AP Poll at that time.
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When The Next last checked in with Washington State, on Dec. 28, the Cougars were seeking consistency. Head coach Kamie Ethridge said, “We are about 10 points shy on a nightly basis of being where we need to be.” Since then, Washington State has suffered a nine-point loss to Stanford and a one-point loss to California in overtime. They found their 10 points against Washington with a 72-59 win.
The hosts made the event special, including a visit from Dubs, the live husky mascot for Washington. There was also a fan giveaway of bucket hats adorned with both schools’ logos. As the crowd entered and shed their coats, gloves and scarves, the Washington pep band welcomed them. As tip-off time approached, the sound system played Rihanna (featured in Jay-Z’s song “Run This Town”), who proclaimed, “Can’t be scared when it goes down / got a problem tell me now / only thing that’s on my mind is who’ss gonna run this town tonight.”
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Started out close but turnovers were unsurmountable
Washington won the opening tip and quickly jumped out to a 4-0 start before Washington State responded. Back-to-back 3s from Washington senior Lauren Schwartz and freshman Sayvia Sellers increased the lead to 12-5. Washington led by as much as nine, and the first quarter ended with them holding an 18-11 advantage.
Washington State would turn it around in the second period beginning with back-to-back 3s from freshman Jenna Villa and another triple from sophomore Kyra Gardner. Villa and Gardner are two of only four Americans on the Washington State roster, both listed as Washingtonians. Momentum was stopped by an offensive foul from Washington State graduate student Beyonce Bea, which evened the score at 22. On the buzzer, Washington State fifth-year player Bella Murekatete would pull down an offensive rebound and score the putback to close the half with the Cougars leading 28-26.
In the second half, Washington State expanded its lead as Washington turnovers accumulated. The Cougars led by 10, 45-35, when Washington sophomore Elle Ladine and junior Dalayah Daniels started to heat up. Washington chiseled their way back to a four-point deficit. By the end of the third quarter, Washington State led 47-43. With six minutes to go, Cougars junior Tara Wallack drained a 3 and blocked Huskie Sayvia Sellers on the defensive end, bringing the lead to 56-47. Another bucket by Washington State freshman Eleonora Villa brought the score to 58-47 and elicited a timeout call from Washington head coach Tina Langley.
Washington’s total of 15 turnovers and 25% shooting from beyond the arc would be unsurmountable. Washington State won the Apple Cup 72-59. Daniels led all scorers with 23 points in her team’s loss. For Washington State, Eleonora Villa led with 16 points, and Bea would end with a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds).
Postgame Langley was asked about being pushed deep into the shot clock and whether her team executed the gameplan. She said, “Some of it was just waiting for the best shot. Our philosophy is taking the most efficient shot we can.”
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Exciting beginning to 2024 for Seattle sports fans
Seattle sports fans must be dizzy with all the news in the initial fortnight of 2024. Jewell Loyd of the Seattle Storm was announced as one of six players in the 2024 WNBA Player Marketing Agreement on Jan. 11. She’ll be joined by Shakira Austin of the Washington Mystics, who recently discussed the opportunity on Locked On Women’s Basketball. The Seattle Reign revealed their new name, updated from OL Reign with anticipation of the team being sold. They also acquired new draft picks and finalized a contract extension for forward Bethany Balcer. In free agency, the Reign also lost national team players Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett to New Jersey/New York Gotham FC.
In men’s sports, the Washington football team lost in the College Football Playoff championship game to Michigan, 34-13, on Monday. After the game head coach Kalen DeBoer announced his departure to Alabama, along with a massive exodus of players. The Seattle Seahawks parted ways with longtime head coach, Pete Caroll, on Wednesday. And the Seattle Kraken have won all five of their 2024 games, starting with the Winter Classic game played on the Seattle Mariners’ baseball field on New Year’s Day.
That’s a lot of news for one city in two weeks. For women’s professional sports fans in Seattle, it’s mostly positive. Plus, when the 2024 Storm and Reign seasons finally get underway, the sun should be shining. Now that’s something to look forward to.
Written by Abby Gordon
Abby Gordon is a Board-Certified Sports Physical Therapist at Seattle Children's Hospital. She was the Team Physical Therapist for the Seattle Storm from 2015 to 2022 and the Travel Coordinator and Equipment Manager for the Connecticut Sun from 2007 to 2010. After four seasons working as a team manager for the UConn Huskies Women's Basketball team, she graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2007 with a Bachelor's in Exercise Science and in 2014 with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She writes about WNBA Injuries and Sports Medicine Issues in Women's Basketball for The Next.