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Washington State upsets #5 Arizona in Tucson, 74-61


NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Arizona Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State Cougars delivered one of the biggest wins in program history, upsetting the #5 Arizona Wildcats, 74-61.

Things began to feel all too familiar late in the game for WSU (7-10, 2-4 in Pac-12). #5 Arizona (14-2, 3-2) had cut a once 18 point lead down to just five with a 14-2 run. This time, WSU would not be denied. T.J. Bamba and Mouhamed Gueye helped deliver a 7-0 run to put the dagger in the Wildcats and give WSU their first road win over a top five ranked opponent in program history!

The Cougars took their first lead of the game after Gueye jabstepped his way into the paint, rising up and banking in the layup while drawing contact for the and-one. Justin Powell extended the lead with a corner three to put the Cougars up four. The Cougar offense began to slow down, not scoring for over four minutes as the Wildcats began to slowly claw their way to a one point lead at 21-20. Powell awoke the Cougar offense with a three off a feed from a driving Jabe Mullins. Mullins saw how much fun Powell had giving the Cougars a lead with his three pointer and decided to join the party. “Jab3” Mullins hit back-to-back threes to extend WSU’s run to 9-0 and more importantly, give WSU their largest lead of the game at eight. With the shot clock turned off, the Wildcats were hoping to head into the locker room with some momentum after a pair of free throws cut the Cougar lead from eight to seven. Bamba had other plans.

D.J. Rodman kept the partying going out of the locker room, hitting a three from the top of the arc to put WSU up 13. Neither team could seemingly buy a bucket even with each getting good looks. Mullins knocked home a three to put WSU back up by 12 with 13:41 to go. After a long stretch of no whistles or stoppages, the under-16 media timeout didn’t come until the 13:27 mark. The first break of the first half helped WSU catch their breath and come out firing again. Rodman sank back-to-back three to put the Cougars up by a game-high 18 points.

The Wildcats slowly cut into the double-digit lead and brought the game within 10 with 7:13 to go and within seven two minutes later. WSU’s field goal drought reached the five minute mark when Kerr Kriisa hit two free throws to cut WSU’s once 18 point lead to just five.

Flashbacks of last weeks UCLA loss began to creep into the minds of Cougar fans. WSU’s large lead was erased and the offense struggled to find a bucket. Was WSU going to share the same fate as last week? Or could they finally exercise those demons and close the game out for their first road win over a top five opponent.

Bamba finally snapped the field goal drought with back to back drives to the rim to put WSU back up by nine. In a massive possession up by nine with the two minute mark approaching, the Cougars used up all of the shot clock and Gueye hit the biggest shot of the season, and his WSU career.

The Gueye three proved to be the dagger and the Cougars got their biggest win in the Kyle Smith era, upsetting the #5 Wildcats 74-59. The Wildcats had won 28 straight at home before tonight.

WSU’s three point shooting was the story all throughout this one. The Cougars finished the game hitting 12 of 28 shots from downtown and held Arizona to just four of 25.

The 2022-23 season has been anything but generous to Washington State. Before the season tipped off, the Cougars lost two key players to medical and personal issues. The Cougars then have had to navigate through one of the toughest schedules in recent memory and injuries. Tough losses, heartbreakers and just never getting the ball to bounce their way. The fruits of their labors were finally rewarded tonight. They battled hard all night long and finished with one of the biggest wins in program history. Congratulations to this team that has had to fight through so much adversity this season.

With college basketball, you just never know what can happen any given night. There’s still a lot of season left and you’ve seen what this team is truly capable of. Let’s keep rolling the ball out there and see where this season takes us.

WSU will look to keep the momentum rolling against the California Golden Bears on Wednesday night. Go pack Beasley Cougs. They earned it.