In the regular season finale, the Washington State Cougars (9-21, 1-17) lost their 16th straight basketball game, this time to
Andrew Andrews the Washington Huskies (17-13, 9-9), 99-91 on Wednesday night. The Cougars' losing streak, which started seven weeks ago with a 99-95 OT loss against UW, came full circle as the same Huskies ended WSU's regular season with another loss.
It was a strange first half for Washington State. Charles Callison somehow had three personal fouls just seven minutes in. The Cougars made all eight of their free throws. The team combined for 13 assists to UW's five. Color commentator Adrian Branch compared Derrien King's three-point shot to Klay Thompson's. The Cougs even held a five-point lead midway through the half.
However, it was also a first half that was filled with the same mistakes that have plagued the Cougars all season. WSU gave the ball away 11 times, while the Huskies only turned the ball over twice. Credit UW's defense; the Huskies constantly went in for the double-team against smaller bodies (the Ny Redding effect).
Despite all this, the Cougars were shooting 50 percent from the field and made four of seven attempted three-pointers. Conor Clifford scored 12 points against a tough Washington front court and even exhibited his mid-range shot. King hit two big corner three balls, which kept Washington State in the game.
The Cougs were in prime position to go into half being down by only a few until Washington finished the first half on a 23-8 run, which included a buzzer-beating Steph Curry-esque three by Dejounte Murray which came from 35+ feet out.
The first few minutes of the second half were important for Washington State if they wanted to cut into Washington's lead. Josh Hawkinson and Que Johnson hit jump shots but Washington responded with their own buckets from Matisse Thybulle and Andrew Andrews. Oh yeah, did I mention it was Senior Night for UW? Andrews, Washington's lone senior and the leading scorer in the Pac-12 (20.3 ppg) was a video game Wednesday night for the Huskies.
Last year, Andrews set a career-high in points with 35 in Pullman when he hit a game-winning three, and Wednesday night was no different. Andrews set a new career-high in points with 47 and simply couldn't miss. Two early second half possesions ended with Andrews hitting shots from behind the arc that were largely uncontested which only got Alaska Airlines Arena more rowdy. At one point in the second half Andrews had three crimson jerseys surrounding him which resulted in a wide open mid-range jumper from Noah Dickerson after a nice kick out pass.
Andrews' 47 points against the Cougars Wednesday night was easily one of the most impressive single-game scoring performances that the Pac-12 has seen all season.
Before you knew it, the Cougars 10-point halftime deficit now sat at 25 points and the game was over.
In addition to Andrews' 47 points, Murray added 15 and Marquese Chriss had ten himself. If there's any good news to take away from this game, it's that WSU played its final game against Andrews and hopefully Murray as well.
WSU quietly went on a 19-4 scoring run towards the end of the second half but time simply was not on their side. The Huskies subbed out Andrews to a standing ovation for Dan Kingma (the new human victory cigar?) and yet Washington State cut the lead back down to 10 with 1:09 remaining. Kingma even turned the ball over after failing to bring the ball past the timeline in ten seconds and Andrews was subbed back in and added some more points from the free throw line.
Despite Andrews' career-night, it was nice seeing Washington State continue to battle. The score was 85-60 in favor of the Huskies midway through the second half but the Cougars kept battling and played for an entire 40 minutes, something that has been missing the majority of the season.
The most impressive performance on the floor for Washington State came from Clifford, who tied a career-high with 18 points. He set that high against Cal State Los Angeles, which is an actual school, earlier in the season. Clifford may still be adjusting to Division I basketball, but putting 18 points up on a Washington team fighting for an NCAA tournament berth is nonetheless impressive. Hawkinson registered his 20th double-double of the season scoring 23 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, which lead WSU in both categories. Johnson had 20 points including several three's which brought the game into single-digits in the final minute.
The Cougars finish the regular season with just nine total wins, tying the 2015 football team in victories. Barring an upset win at the Pac-12 tournament in Vegas next week, the Cougars won't crack double-digits in the win column. In fact, this is the first season since 2002-2003 that Washington State lost every single road game. Yes, they did beat New Mexico on Christmas Day but that was at a neural site during tournament play. Is it really that difficult to beat Idaho in the Kibbie Dome?
Up next for Washington State? As of right now, the 12th seeded Cougars would face the fifth seeded Colorado Buffaloes in the first round of the conference tournament. However, with still games left on the schedule, Arizona, California, and USC are all possibilities as well. The tournament bracket will be released this weekend so be on the lookout for that once conference play comes to an end.