UW started off hot, getting the ball inside with Shawn Kemp Jr., who was able to do pretty much anything he wanted over Jordan Railey in the first three minutes, sending Railey to the bench early.
The next fifteen minutes proved fruitful for the Cougar defense, who deployed a sagging zone and dared the Huskies to shoot over the top. Washington responded in kind by going 4-15 (including missing ten in a row). The Huskies were able to stay in the game by drawing fouls while going for offensive rebounds and getting second chances.
Meanwhile, the Cougs made a ridiculous six of its first eight three pointers, including a couple 28-footers from DaVonte Lacy. The stretching of the defense allowed Josh Hawkinson and Railey to get a few easy looks inside and lanes open for Ike Iroegbu to draw contact and shoot six free throws.
The Cougs appeared in control of the game until the three minute mark when Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews took over. Four layups on four consecutive possessions in the final three minutes allowed the Huskies to head into the locker room down four, which is probably the best you can ask for when your opponent makes 75% of its threes.
At halftime, WSU celebrated its ten year anniversary of the Zzu Cru and this happened:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZZUCRU10?src=hash">#ZZUCRU10</a> Card Stunt! Looks great! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoCougs?src=hash">#GoCougs</a> <a href="http://t.co/ZVeTWpNIIX">pic.twitter.com/ZVeTWpNIIX</a></p>— WSU Cougars (@WSUCougars) <a href="https://twitter.com/WSUCougars/status/569686979987656705">February 23, 2015</a></blockquote>
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A couple quick turnovers to start the half allowed the Huskies to even things up within the first couple minutes of the 2nd half and teams traded punches for the next ten to twelve minutes. The Cougars' hot shooting continued, making their first nine shots of the half, but the Huskies were able to stay in the game by forcing several WSU turnovers. The Cougs might be the first team to go ten minutes without missing a field goal and get outscored in that stretch, so it's nice to see WSU can still blaze a trail to new territory, even in 2015.
The final ten minutes of the game could probably be described as basketball in some sort of abstract definition, but it was more or less a free throw shooting competition. A total of 58 free throws were shot tonight, but around half of those were concentrated in the final ten minutes.
Lacy hit two free throws at the 1:47 mark to put the Cougs ahead by one, Washington put together a rather bizarre possession where the ball was passed around the perimeter hoping to find a shot. Andrew Andrews took a 26-footer with a hand in his face at the buzzer and the shot fell through the bottom of the net, putting the Huskies up by 2. Que Johnson tied the game again on two (more) free throws, but UW with 38 seconds left in the game ran a four-corners offense for the duration of the shot-clock and Andrews nailed another three to end the game, 87-84.
The end does sting quite a bit; everyone in the arena knew the ball was going to Andrews and he was able to get a wide open look with minimal effort. That being said, the Cougs' hot shooting probably kept them in the game longer than they should've been there. The Huskies snap a seven game losing streak and improve to 4-10 in conference play and 15-11 overall. The Cougs fall to 5-9 in conference and 11-15 overall.
WSU plays again on Wednesday night, travelling to USC for a 7 pm tipoff.