VILLANOVA, Pa. — Man, the Washington State women’s basketball team has felt like big winners since they adopted Shania Twain’s monster 1997 hit “Man, I Feel Like A Woman” as the their theme song on their run into March Madness.
The Cougars sing Twain’s song in the locker room before games. And after they unexpectedly won the Pac-12 Tournament title, the opening riff blared on the speakers and the team about drowned out Twain, gleefully singing along about men’s shirts, short skirts — and becoming the lowest-seeded team to ever win the conference tourney.
“We truly are a team of karaoke,” forward Ula Motuga said Friday. “The bus ride, there’s no doubt someone’s got a speaker going and then other people will sing along. Some can sing, some cannot. But it’s fun. It’s something that bring us together.”
Motuga, who’s from Australia, has even used the opening line, “let’s go, girls” as a team anthem.
Twain, on tour and unavailable for comment, has become a fan. The five-time Grammy winnerretweeted the Cougars’ team account, writing after the Pac-12 title game, “I’m honored to have been a small part of your journey!!”
Why stop at a locker room sing-along? The fifth-seeded Cougars tweeted at Twain that it wants to join her on stage on April 28 when her tour stops in Spokane, Washington, about 75 miles north of campus.
“You feeling a duet with the Cougs that night?” WSU tweeted.
Motuga is feeling confident: “We will be going on stage. She doesn’t know it yet, but yes.”
Washington State also is feeling some confidence going into its opening-round NCAA Tournament game Saturday against Florida Gulf Coast at Villanova’s campus — Wazzu’s third straight NCAA appearance.
The Cougs won four games in five days in the Pac-12 Tournament, beating No. 10 seed California, No. 2 seed Utah, No. 3 seed Colorado and finally UCLA. They’re the first women’s team at Washington State to win a conference championship.
Coach Kamie Ethridge joked that her players are better backup singers.
“They’re not shy about singing,” Ethridge said. “You’ll hear all different tunes and loudness. I don’t know that I would say it’s great. But I would say it’s a blast to watch them enjoy the whole process. “But Shania, Shania is the lead singer.”
Twain isn’t the only famous fan throwing her support behind the Cougars: President Joe Biden picked them to beat FGCU — though he has the Cougars losing to his national championship pick, Villanova, in the second round.
“President Biden, man!” Motuga said. “I think it’s cool to see a bunch of different people and public figures tuning in. It just shows the support they have for women’s basketball, especially, and more people are buying into creating a bracket.”
____ AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25