Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE
The Cougs stuggled to close in the last 30 seconds, and fell for the third-straight time.
Washington State lost their third-straight game, and in heart-breaking fashion for the second time, as Elston Turner hit an NBA-range three to put Texas A&M up 55-54 with less than three seconds remaining. The loss sends the Cougars home without a win in Kansas City.
The game started out very slowly, with both teams struggling to score in the first half. The Cougars could rarely find an open look, but got a three from Dexter Kernich-Drew and six free throws to grab a 21-16 halftime lead.
Offense picked up on both sides in the second half. Texas A&M was getting looks down low, and each team was finally freeing up open three-point shooters. DKD had the best scoring stretch of his career at one point, dropping 10 points quick points to give the Cougars a lead.
WSU couldn't hold the lead though, as they continued to make the avoidable turnovers that have plagued them the last three games. A&M was jumping passing lanes on lazy tosses, and were constantly ripping the ball out of WSU's hands.
Brock Motum was given a lot of attention tonight, and had to work hard for every basket. He finished 6-12 for 15 points and just four rebounds. His defense is still of great concern (especially for his pro prospects), as he frequently had trouble defending the post and blocking out.
After stretching out to an advantage as big as six, the Cougars had relinquished the lead at 51-50 when Kernich-Drew hit what looked to be the shot of the night at the time, stepping up and knocking down a long three to give WSU a 53-51 lead with around two minutes left to play. DKD finished with 16 points, 13 of which came in the second half.
Leading 53-52 with 33 seconds left, the onus was on Wazzu to hit free throws to secure the win down the stretch. Instead, they turned the ball over to the Aggies. Texas A&M's Turner missed an open three that would have given his team the lead. He would get another opportunity.
After a timeout and an aTm knockaway, WSU was finally able to break the press. Motum faced a 3-on-1 and inexplicably gave the ball up to D.J. Shelton instead of pulling the ball out or taking the shot himself. D.J. hit the first, and missed the second. That was important.
Turner would come down, get a mismatch on Shelton off a switch, then pull up for a clean look from 23 feet to win the game.
This makes two-straight seasons where the Cougs have a nightmarish first trip away from Eastern Washington early in the year. Let's never enter another preseason tournament again.