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WSU gets to .500 in conference play with 60-59 victory over Stanford

Tic-tac-toe, that’s three in a row!

NCAA Basketball: California at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State Cougars escaped the Stanford Cardinal at the buzzer for their third straight victory, 60-59.

Stanford (5-12, 0-7 in Pac-12) got the final possession of the game down by one with 3.4 seconds to go. Maxime Raynaud quickly fired off a three that hit the front of the rim and Brandon Angel’s put back failed as WSU (9-10, 4-4) narrowly survived to earn their fourth conference win in their last five games.

Despite Stanford’s winless start to Pac-12 play, the Cardinal have proven to be a tough out with narrow losses to Arizona State, Colorado and Utah. The Cardinal again proved to be better than their record indicated early on. Entering Saturday night, Stanford was one of the worst three point shooting teams in the country with a 31.2% team shooting percentage. Naturally, the Cardinal made four of their first seven threes to open up a 26-18 lead, Stanford’s largest lead since December 29th. Mouhamed Gueye recorded back-to-back buckets in the paint to cut the lead in half. Unfortunately, it would be the last of the first half Gueye would see as the big man recorded his third personal foul soon after, forcing Kyle Smith to bench Gueye for the rest of the half. Freshman Adrame Diongue subbed in and threw down a sweet ally-oop dunk before the end of the half.

Similar to the Cal game a few days prior, the Cougars began to pick things up in the second half. Since returning from injury, Andrej Jakimovski has struggled to find his rhythm offensively. The third year forward had yet to score in double-digits in his first seven games of the season. Tonight, “Jaki” let it fly. Jakimovski fueled a 15-7 Cougar run with three treys to push the Cougars through to a six point advantage, their largest of the game.

The gritty Cardinal squad fought right back into it. A 5-0 Stanford run pulled the Cardinal right back within a point with 4:35 remaining. D.J. Rodman, who’d been fairly quiet tonight, decided it was time for him to takeover. Rodman knocked home a big three to push the lead back up to four. Stanford answered with a Raynaud dunk on the other end, but just two possessions later on a fast break, Rodman delivered another massive three.

The Cardinal wouldn’t go down without a fight. Spencer Jones’ bucket pulled Stanford within three and got a chance to tie the game with under 50 seconds to go after Rodman couldn’t hit his third straight trey. WSU locked up on defense, forcing the Cardinal to call a timeout twice on the same possession. Eventually, Stanford broke through with Raynaud getting through a smaller Jakimovski and to the rim for the layup to make it a one point game with just a second on the shot clock. The Cardinal fouled Jakimovski on the inbound, who missed the front end of a one-and-one to give Stanford the final possession of the game. Harrison Ingram kept the game alive by saving a ball heading out of bounds and deflecting it off Rodman, with 3.4 seconds left in the game. After a brief timeout for the refs to review the clock, Stanford tried to draw up the game winner. Raynaud received the ball at the top of the arc on the inbound and seemingly forgot how much time was left on the clock, heaving up an off balance fadeaway. His shot clanked off the front of the rim. Angel tried to put the ball back up with a putback dunk, but just didn’t have enough fuel in his takeoff as his dunk attempt couldn’t get over the rim. WSU scooped up the loose rebound as the clock hit triple zeros and the Cougars survived.

WSU will now embark on of the toughest road trips in the Pac-12, heading into the mountains for a pair of games against the Utah Utes on Thursday and the Colorado Buffaloes on Sunday.