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Huskies defeat Cougars in heart-wrenching fashion yet again

The game was there to be won, but the Cougars just couldn't close it out.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Cougar fans. At least it wasn't the Apple Cup? I guess? That's no consolation, I'm sure, after WSU lost yet another winnable game, at home, to Washington. In 2014, Ken Bone's worst team managed to beat the Huskies on Friel Court. Sandwiched around that, however, are a 59-55 defeat in 2012, a 68-63 defeat in 2013, an 87-84 heart-breaker last season and a 99-95 overtime loss Saturday. For those of you who were promised there would be no math, that's four losses by a total of 16 points.

The worst part about Saturday's loss is that the Cougars did so many good things, but still couldn't put the game away. Despite a spate of early turnovers, they actually had two fewer giveaways than their season average. Ike Iroegbu was slashing through the UW defense. Josh Hawkinson was having another monster game. The Huskies were in foul trouble. Heck, even Brett Boese came back from the dead to drill a couple three-pointers.

A big turning point seemed to arrive in the second half, when WSU switched to a zone defense. I don't know how long WSU was running a zone, but it seemed like UW did most of its damage, particularly on the offensive glass, during that stretch. That was also the part of the game when UW turned a six-point deficit into a lead. I will say that I was impressed with the way the Cougars kept fighting. After trailing by 10 with just over four minutes left, WSU fought its way back.

But those free throws. Oh, those free throws. I can't say for sure whether WSU would have won had Ike hit both free throws, giving WSU a one-point lead late in the game. Maybe Romar runs a different play, though I'm certain Andrew Andrews would have had the ball, as he did Saturday. It sure would have been nice to find out, though. As for Andrews, it will be really great to look out there and not see him next season.

A couple other things surpried me Saturday. After having a fairly effective first half, especially around the basket, Conor Clifford was mostly absent after halftime. After flashing some potential in the non-conference games, Darrien King only logged three minutes, and they didn't go well. The biggest surprise was that WSU out-rebounded UW, despite UW coming in as the top rebounding team in the Pac-12. Alas, it was for naught. Oh, and does anybody have the number for that free throw coach we all wanted to hire a few seasons back?


Poor free-throw shooting dooms Cougars in OT loss to Huskies - - Jan. 9, 2016
"They played as hard as they could play," Kent said. "Unfortunately, we came out on the short end and it didn’t come down to bad defense, it didn’t come down to lack of confidence. It didn’t, it came down to bad free throw shooting in a hard, hard-fought battle."

Postgame wrapup: Washington 99, Washington State 95 OT | The Seattle Times
Huskies blow a 10-point lead late in second half before regaining their footing and putting the Cougars away in overtime.

WSU coach Ernie Kent laments not fouling out UW’s Andrew Andrews | The Seattle Times
Four Huskies fouled out, but Andrews avoided disqualification. He made the Cougars with game-high 29 points during Washington's 99-95 overtime win.

Andrews leads Huskies past WSU 99-95 (OT) | Sportspress Northwest
"He’s got them believing," Romar said. "There’s no doubt about it. Those guys play with a lot of confidence, and we knew coming in that Washington State was a dangerous team."

Cougars Welcome Sun Devils for Sunday Matinee - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Washington State will look to knock off the No. 14 team Sunday at noon.


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