The Washington State Cougars exacted revenge on the Eastern Washington Eagles from their NIT match back in March with a 82-72 victory.
WSU (5-1) led by as much as 12 in the second half before EWU (1-5) went on a 22-12 run to cut the lead down to two with 8:11 to play. The Cougs immediately responded with a 10-0 run to go back up by 12 and hung on from there. Myles Rice had himself a career night, scoring 28 points and hitting six threes (making his first five attempts).
To open the game, Rice drilled all three of his shots from beyond the arc to open the scoring for the Cougs. He hit later hit a fourth straight on a heat check to give him 12 points in the first nine minutes of play. Rueben Chinyelu watered the lead with six points inside and Myles made it blossom with a fifth straight trey to push WSU up 12 halfway through the first.
Following the three, the Eagles scored 12 of their final 19 first half points from the free throw line to close the halftime deficit to eight. The halftime break couldn’t cool off Rice who drained his sixth straight trey early into the second half. EWU wouldn’t be deterred, answering each WSU bucket with one or two of their own to pull back within six. A pair of Isaac Jones free throws and a Rice jumper pushed the lead back up to 10, but Mason Williams’ personal 8-0 run off of a pair of treys brought it right back down to two with flashbacks of last years game starting to creep in.
Andrej Jakimovski sparked the Cougs with a tough and-one that proved to be the points that also ignited the game changing run. Kymany Houinsou knocked home a pair of free throws, Jakimovski drilled a triple and Oscar Cluff put in a bucket in the paint to bookend the 10-0 run with 5:27 to go.
Every punch the Eagles threw the rest of the way was countered quick by the Cougars to hold out any last minute comeback efforts for the Cougars fifth victory of the season.
WSU will play host to the Portland State Vikings on Saturday.