The Oregon Ducks capitalized on some late Washington State Cougars mistakes to win the conference opener, 74-60.
WSU (3-3. 0-1 in Pac-12) went to toe-to-toe with Oregon (4-4, 1-0) for a majority of the game as neither team could seize firm control. Things began to unravel for the Cougars late in the second half. Turnovers and second chance points proved to be the death of WSU as the Ducks ran away with the game late as the Cougars had no answer defensively for Oregon’s post presence.
An already ailing WSU team received a surprise late scratch as the red-hot Jabe Mullins was ruled out with a knee injury. Dylan Darling took his place in the starting rotation alongside Justin Powell, T.J. Bamba, D.J. Rodman and Mouhamed Gueye.
The two northwest squads went punch-for-punch early, neither gaining a lead more than four. Oregon’s punches came with a little extra thunder as the Ducks scored six of their first 13 points via the slam dunk. Gueye delivered the most thunderous punch back, soaring through the trees of the Oregon court and delivering a powerful jam to tie the game up at 23.
MOUHAMED GUEYE!— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarMBB) December 2, 2022
The big man takes it to the rim himself and throws it down with force!
https://t.co/jULXsiSGVo #GoCougs | #WAZZU pic.twitter.com/TpfgyOzoFV
Gueye’s powerful dunk set the tone as he rolled into the halftime break with 17 of WSU’s 32 points with the teams still fighting for control of the game, deadlocked at 32. WSU had been reliant on the three ball in their first five games, averaging 11.2 threes as a team. Without their best three point shooter in Mullins, the Cougars hit just two three in the first half, and of course, Gueye banked one of them in.
The only thing that could stop Gueye? Foul trouble. He picked up three fouls within the first seven minutes and had to take a seat with 13:18 to go. The Ducks took advantage, going on a 13-2 run for the largest lead of the game so far at 53-46. Bamba snapped the Ducks run with a layup, but the Ducks continued to kill the Cougs inside with multiple offensive rebounds leading to second chance buckets and points in the paint. The mistakes piled up as Oregon continued to take advantage with N’Faly Dante scored six unanswered to swell the lead to 14 at the under four minute mark, putting the game away. WSU turned the ball over 11 times and allowed seven offensive rebounds, leading to eight second chance points in the second half alone.
The box score is plenty of evidence that this team really missed Mullins. WSU only made three three-pointers all game. The Cougars held the Ducks to only three downtown shots themselves but the Ducks scored 52 points in the paint. Gueye couldn’t get anything going after getting into foul trouble as he didn’t score in the final 19 minutes of the game. Bamba shouldered the offense in the second half with 10 of his 14 coming in the final frame.
WSU will return home after the one-game trip for a rare Sunday matinee game against the Utah Utes, who knocked off the #4 Arizona Wildcats on Thursday night.