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Cougs unable to to keep up with Arizona, fall 79-62

A late run by the Wildcats ended WSU’s hope of an upset

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

With under eight minutes to play, Washington State trailed No. 7 Arizona by three points Thursday night, but that would be as close as it got. The Cougs put on an impressive performance for 35 minutes in Tucson, before eventually losing 79-62.

WSU and Arizona have a lopsided history on the basketball court, and the Wildcats haven’t dropped a game in the series since 2010. While the streak survived another test, Ernie Kent and his team showed promise Thursday.

Down six at halftime, the Cougs came out firing on all cylinders and tied the game at 39 apiece. The teams then went back and forth for the next 10 minutes. Arizona never lost the lead after going up 41-39, but WSU stayed within striking distance.

With seven minutes remaining, this game began to look like what many of us expected going in. The Wildcats went on a 9-0 run to put them up 12, and never looked back. WSU proved once again that they can have a competitive fight with a heavyweight for a while, but don’t have the depth to go all 10 rounds.

Conor Clifford led the Cougs with 19 points and five rebounds while playing against a talented Arizona frontcourt. UA’s seven footer, likely first round pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Lauri Markkanen brought down 13 rebounds and hit four three pointers.

Kent didn’t give his bench much of a chance, as he utilized a seven man rotation for most of the game. Malachi Flynn, Josh Hawkinson, and Ike Iroegbu all saw fewer than three minutes on the bench. Being so reliant on the starters is probably what kept WSU in the game so long, but also explains their late fade.

Hawkinson surprisingly failed to reach double figures in either points or rebounds, but Flynn had another efficient evening. The freshman guard was 5-8 from the field and finished with 13 points.

The Cougs next game is Sunday at Arizona St, at 11 a.m. You can watch the game on the Pac-12 Network.

*****

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