For the fifth time in seven tries, the Washington State Cougars defeated the Washington Huskies, 56-51.
UW (13-13, 5-10 in Pac-12) pulled the game back with in a possession within the final minutes after trailing for most of the game. WSU (11-15, 6-9) came up with enough clutch defensive stops and a key offensive rebound to deliver the dagger into the Huskies. In his return to Pullman, Noah Williams led the team in scoring with 14. Bamba led all scorers with 20.
Cold shooting plagued the Huskies early on. The Cougar defense stifled the Washington offense early, forcing the Huskies to miss their first 10 shots of the game. While the Cougars were able to keep UW off the scoreboard, WSU jumped out to an early 8-0 lead. Jamal Bey finally put the first points on the board for the Huskies six and a half minutes into the game.
Keion Brooks Jr. put the Huskies ahead for the first time with a three to cap off an 11-2 run. Mouhamed Gueye quickly answered with a personal 5-0 run to put the Cougs right back in front.
T.J. Bamba, once roommates of the infamous Williams, came out firing in the first half. After hitting his second trey, Bamba paid homage to Jaylen Watson with a basketball pick-six, stealing the ball and throwing down a dunk on the other end. Bamba then kicked off an 11-0 Cougar run with a free throw and a jumper to put WSU up 11 with 39 seconds left.
All gas. No brake. Bamba takes it from end to end and hammers it home!— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarMBB) February 12, 2023
https://t.co/TLqIuLMMg0 #GoCougs | #WAZZU pic.twitter.com/hS6crcMB4F
Hearing a rain of boos all night from the student section, Williams came out firing in the second half — and to his credit — delivering early. Williams knocked down back to back shots to pull the game back within seven.
Early second half shooting struggles began to be to catchup to the Cougs. WSU could only muster two field goals in the first eight minutes of the second half.
Hunting for a make, WSU finally got what they needed. Justin Powell came through with a trey to put WSU back up by five. Powell’s trey ball lit a spark in the Cougar offense, jumpstarting a 10-2 run to put WSU back up by double-digits.
UW began to fight their way out of a corner with under six minutes to go. The Cougars ran into a wall offensively, struggling to land get a shot to fall as nobody could seem to take the lid off the rim.
Slowly but surely, the Huskies began to cut into the Cougar lead. Bey got a layup to fall to cut the deficit down to seven. Despite the Cougars lack of scoring, the Cougar defense held strong, keep the Huskies from getting any closer for the next three minutes.
Keyon Menifield was able to get to the charity stripe on a fastbreak and-one to pull the Huskies back within four with just 2:36 to go. Bey knocked home two free throws just a minute later and all of sudden, it was a one-possession game.
In desperate need of points, the Huskies were whistled for a ‘cylinder foul’ that sent Bamba to the line, who calmly knocked down two free throws to put WSU back up by four. After getting a stop on the defensive end, Gueye cleaned up an offensive rebound and put it back up to put the Cougars back up six and essentially deliver the dagger into the Huskies.
Ending of games have been struggles for WSU this season but this time, they finished the job. Despite the six minute field goal drought, the Cougars were able to get the stops they needed against a poor UW offense to close out the game.
Staying in Pullman, the Cougars will welcome in the Oregon schools next weekend with the Oregon State Beavers arriving first for a Thursday night clash.