UCLA’s Jaquez Jr., Cronin highlight AP All-Pac-12 team

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Jaime Jaquez Jr.’s decision to return for his senior season worked out quite well for No. 2 UCLA.

Jaquez was named The Associated Press player of the year in the Pac-12 and Bruins coach Mick Cronin is the conference coach of the year. Washington forward Keion Brooks was named Pac-12 newcomer of the year by an eight-person panel of journalists who cover the conference.

Jaquez considered leaving Westwood for the NBA after three productive seasons that included a trip the Final Four and the Sweet 16 in consecutive years. The crafty 6-foot-7 swing man had another boxscore-stuffing season in his return, averaging 17.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while helping lead the Bruins to their first Pac-12 regular-season title in a decade.

Cronin has returned UCLA to prominence in four seasons since leaving Cincinnati. The Bruins had deep NCAA Tournament runs the past two seasons and were the class of the Pac-12 this year.

UCLA went 27-4 overall during the regular season, 18-2 in Pac-12 play and had its first undefeated home season (17-0) since 2006-07. The Bruins have the nation’s longest active home winning streak at 25 games and are the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament this week in Las Vegas.

Brooks had an immediate impact at Washington after transferring from Kentucky. The 6-foot-7 forward was third in Pac-12 scoring at 17.8 points per game while grabbing 6.9 rebounds.


u-Guard – Tyger Campbell, UCLA, Sr., 5-11, 180, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Guard – Boogie Ellis, USC, Sr., 6-3, 185, San Diego.

u-Forward – Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA, Sr., 6-7, 225, Camarillo, California.

u-Forward – Azuolas Tubelis, Arizona, Jr., 6-11, 245, Vilnius, Lithuania.

Center – Branden Carlson, Utah, Sr., 7-0, 228, South Jordan, Utah.

-“u” denotes unanimous selection.


Guard – Drew Peterson, USC, Sr., 6-9, 205, Libertyville, Illinois.

Guard – Keion Brooks Jr., Washington, Sr., 6-7, 210, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Forward – Mouhamed Gueye, Washington St., So., 6-11, 210, Dakar, Senegal.

Forward – N’Faly Dante, Oregon, Sr., 6-11, 230, Bamako, Mali.

Center – Oumar Ballo, Arizona, Jr., 7-0, 260, Koulikoro, Mali.

Player of the year – Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA.

Coach of the year – Mick Cronin, UCLA.

Newcomer of the year – Keion Brooks, Washington.

All-Pac-12 voting panel: Bruce Pascoe, Arizona Daily Star; Michelle Gardner, Arizona Republic; Paul Klee, Colorado Springs Gazette; Adam Grosbard, Orange County Register; Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News; James Crepea, The Oregonian; Pat Rooney, BuffZone.com; Jesse Sowa, Corvallis Gazette-Times.

Washington State tops No. 19 UCLA 65-61 for Pac-12 title

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS – Washington State capped off one of the most improbable runs in Pac-12 Tournament history by winning the school’s first title.

Charlisse Leger-Walker scored 23 points and Bella Murekatete added 21 as the seventh-seeded Cougars earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament by beating No. 19 UCLA 65-61 in the championship game Sunday.

“I would have never thought we could do it,” fifth-year coach Kamie Ethridge said. “I don’t even think when I took the job I thought this was possible in this kind of a league.”

Washington State won four games in five days, beating No. 10 seed California, No. 2 seed Utah, No. 3 seed Colorado and finally UCLA.

Leger-Walker carried them to the championship.

“Never would have thought we would be doing that,” she said of cutting down the net after winning the title. “That moment just felt so surreal.”

It had been a rough season for the New Zealand native, who went home twice during the season. Once to see her grandmother, Mere Smith, when she became ill, and a second time for Smith’s funeral.

On Sunday, Leger-Walker honored her grandmother.

“This whole tournament, I think, my Nana’s been looking over me,” she said. “This one was definitely for her and for my family back home.”

It was the first-ever Pac-12 championship for Washington State in a women’s sport. It will be the Cougars’ third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Up by three with 9 seconds left, Washington State’s Astera Tuhina got a piece of a 3-point attempt by UCLA’s Charisma Osborne. 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.

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

While it’s been players like Leger-Walker and Murekatete grabbing the headlines, Tuhina’s teammates praised her maturity and poise as a freshman.

“We’ve been saying since the first time she stepped on the campus, Astera is not a freshman,” Murekatete said. “She has the experience, she has the IQ – everything about AT – she has a great feeling for the game. I’m just so blessed and thankful to have her on the team.

“Her poise, how she reads the defense, how she’s so good at offense really helped us with every single thing we needed in the last moment,” Murekatete added.

Osborne led the Bruins (25-9) with 19 points. Kiki Rice scored 13 points and Emily Bessoir added 11 for UCLA.

“I think we definitely could have executed better setting new screens, play with pace, play with tempo,” Rice said. “I think it’s more on us being able to execute our offense and get the looks that we want to get.”

Washington State shot 22 of 41 (53.7%) from the floor, including 7 of 11 (63.6%) from 3-point range. The Cougars were the most efficient team in the tournament, shooting 46.2% (92 of 199).

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 were cold from the outset. 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 set the tournament record with 76 points. She reached double figures in each game, scoring 23, 15, 15 and 23 points. Her 11 3-pointers tied for the sixth most made in a single tournament.


Joining Leger-Walker on the All-Tournament team were Murekatete, Rice and Osborne, along with Emily Bessoir (UCLA) and Cameron Brink (Stanford).


Washington State: The Cougars were 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, in 2009 (USC) and 2022 (Utah).

UCLA: After being held to just two points in the first half, on 1-of-6 shooting, Rice bolstered the Bruins’ 8-0 start to the third quarter with five points. In the second half, the freshman guard hit 4 of 10 from the field.


The teams await their NCAA Tournament seeding, with UCLA sure to receive an at-large bid.

Washington State upsets No. 3 Utah 66-58 in Pac-12 quarters

The Register Guard

LAS VEGAS – Bella Murekatete scored 19 points and Washington State upset No. 3 Utah 66-58 in a Pac-12 quarterfinal game.

The Cougars (21-10) led by three with 39.3 seconds left and had the ball, and rather than foul, the Utes allowed Charlisse Leger-Walker to virtually dribble out the shot clock, make one pass, get the ball back, and drain a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to extend the lead to 64-58.

Leger-Walker finished with 15 points, while Ula Motuga chipped in 13 for the Cougars.

Utah (25-4) was led by Gianna Kneepkens, who scored 18 points. Alissa Pili added 11 points for the Utes.

After trailing by four at halftime, the Cougars outscored Utah 27-11 in the third quarter after erasing a two-point deficit by closing the period on a 14-0 run and took a 53-41 lead into the final period.

Washington State hit 11 of 19 (57.9%) from the floor in the third, including 5 of 7 (71.4%) from 3-point range, while the normally high-scoring Utes struggled behind 36.4% shooting (4 of 11).

After opening the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer from Kneepkens, the Utes missed eight straight shots while the Cougars built a 14-point lead, 58-44, with 7:41 left in the game.

The Cougars limited Utah’s second-chance opportunities, with 77.1% defensive rebounding percentage. Washington State also outscored Utah with second-chance points, 11-4


Washington State: The Cougars exacted revenge from last year’s tournament when the teams also met in the quarterfinals. Utah beat Washington State, 70-59.

Utah: The Utes were the highest-scoring team in the Pac-12 this season, averaging 84.4 points per game. They never found their groove on offense, from the opening tip, as they shot a rather bleak 27% over the first five minutes.


Washington State: Will face Colorado or Oregon State in Friday’s semifinal round.

Utah: Awaits an NCAA bid. —

Washington State women rally past Cal in Pac-12 Tournament

Syndication: Arizona Republic

LAS VEGAS – Charlisse Leger-Walker scored 23 points, Bella Murekatete had a double-double and Washington State rallied to defeat California 61-49 in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday night.

After trailing for most of the first three quarters, a layup by Jessica Clarke gave the Cougars a five-point lead with 6:10 to go in regulation. The lead reached 53-45 1 1/2 minutes later when Astera Tuhina connected on a 3-pointer, just WSU’s second of the game in 15 attempts. Tuhina added a jumper on WSU’s next possession and the lead was 55-45 with 3:32 remaining.

Cal got within 55-49 on a fastbreak layup by Leilani McIntosh with 2:20 to go, but the Golden Bears did not score again.

Leger-Walker made 8 of 15 shots and 6 of 8 free throws to go with six rebounds and two assists. Murekatete had 13 points and 12 rebounds. Tuhina added nine points and four assists for Washington State (20-10).

Jayda Curry scored 16 points for the Golden Bears (13-17) and no other starter scored more than five. Ugonne Onyiah and Mia Mastrov scored 10 points each off the bench.

After Cal led 27-21 at halftime, a 3-pointer from Leger-Walker got the No. 7 seed Cougars within 38-36 with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter. The Cougars hadn’t been that close since they trailed 11-10 in the first minute of the second quarter. The score was tied twice later in the third quarter and WSU took a 44-42 lead into the fourth period after Leger-Walker made two free throws with 15 seconds left in the period.

Washington State has won 20 games for the first time in the NCAA-era for women’s basketball. The 1978-79 team won 21 games.

Washington State advances to play No. 2-seed and regular-season co-champion Utah in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Sherrod helps No. 25 Colorado hold off Washington State 71-68

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

BOULDER, Colo. – Jaylyn Sherrod matched her career high of 27 points and Tayanna Jones had a steal in the paint with two seconds left as No. 25 Colorado held off Washington State to complete a season sweep, 71-68.

Colorado had lost its last two games with the Cougars at the CU Events Center and Washington State came into the game on a program-record six-game road win streak.

The Buffaloes trailed by nine to start the fourth quarter, but Sherrod scored at the basket, then knocked down a 3 to kick-start a 14-3 run and capped it with a layup with 5:14 left to take a 57-55 lead. Washington State answered with 3-pointers from Astera Tuhina and Johanna Teder and after Sherrod scored on a layup, Jessica Clarke added a layup to take a 63-59 lead with 3:20 left. Quay Miller’s two free throws put Colorado in front, 67-65, but Teder hit again from 3 to put the Cougars in front with a minute left to play. Sherrod closed the game out with four straight free throws, including a pair after Miller stripped Clarke in the paint.

Sherrod hit 10 of 12 from the field and was 6 of 7 from the line for the Buffaloes (19-5, 10-3 Pac-12). Frida Foreman finished with 14 points and Miller added 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals.

Charlisse Leger-Walker had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Washington State (16-8, 6-7). Teder had 13 points and six assists and Clarke finished with 12 points and six rebounds.

Colorado hosts Washington Sunday. Washington State takes on No. 7 Utah Sunday.

Washington State signs Kyle Smith to extension through 2026-27

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State signed coach Kyle Smith to a contract extension Thursday that goes through the 2026-27 season and adds two years to the original contract he was given when he was hired.

Smith was brought in as the replacement for Ernie Kent in March 2019 and quickly brought optimism back to the Cougars program. Washington State has finished .500 or above in each of Smith’s first two seasons. The only other coach to accomplish that in Washington State history was Tony Bennett.

“The rebirth in our men’s basketball program since Kyle arrived two years ago has been remarkable,” athletic director Pat Chun said. “Kyle’s ability to attract and develop top talent has revitalized not only our men’s basketball program, but our fan base as well. The future of Cougar basketball is in good hands under Kyle’s leadership and we are excited he will be a Cougar for many years to come.”

Washington State went 16-16 in Smith’s first season in 2019-20 and last season went 14-13. Smith has also brought an influx of talent to Pullman, Washington, with a pair of recruiting classes ranked in the top 60 nationally.

Before moving to the Palouse, Smith spent three seasons as the head coach at San Francisco, where he compiled a record of 63-40.