The Washington State Cougars survived a near late comeback from the Oregon Ducks, hanging on for a 68-65 win on Senior Day in Pullman.
WSU (13-15, 8-9 in Pac-12) watched their 10 point lead evaporate as Oregon (15-13, 9-8) flipped the switch and brought the game within a possession going down to the final minute. In need of a bucket, Justin Powell delivered a huge lay-up to give WSU two key insurance points. Down three with the shot clock turned off, Oregon air balled the game tying triple right before the clock expired.
With it being the final regular season home game at Beasley Coliseum, the Cougars honored seniors D.J. Rodman and Jack Wilson. During the ceremonies, a tearful Rodman told the crowd how much he has enjoyed the past four years in Pullman. He then sent the Beasley crowd into a frenzy when he announced that four years wasn’t enough. Rodman will be back next season.
Much to the delight of coach Smith.
The first half was spent jockeying for the lead and control of the game. WSU went on the first big run of the game six minutes in. The Cougars 10-0 run, highlighted by a Mouhamed Gueye slam, put the Cougars up five. Oregon’s defense stifled the Cougar offense shortly after the 10-0 run. WSU could only muster 10 more points in the last 12 minutes of the half. With the Cougar offense locked down, the Ducks went on a run of their own to retake the lead and hold it into the halftime break.
Rodman gave the Cougars the lead back with his first trey of the night three and a half minutes into the second half. Two possessions later, Rodman kept it flowing with a another three-pointer to push the lead up to five. Gueye put the exclamation point on the run with a powerful dunk off a great pass from Powell.
Mouhamed Gueye works the pick n roll with Powell and finishes hard with the two-hand jam!— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarMBB) February 20, 2023
https://t.co/3bKsQb8MOO #GoCougs #WAZZU pic.twitter.com/5YEbnssmIH
The Cougars kept their foot on the gas, extending the lead up to seven with a freakishly athletic play from Gueye to go catch a high lob pass and get the tough lay-up to go. Andrej Jakimovski got the lead to double digits with a corner trey to give WSU their largest lead of the game so far, at 10.
Oregon quickly cut the lead in half after a bad in-bounds pass was thrown right to Keeshawn Barthelemy for an easy layup. After a missed bucket on the other end, Barthelemy struck again with an open floater to make it a one-possession game. For every bucket the Cougars got, Oregon was quick to respond. An open Rodman three pushed the lead up to four, but Oregon broke down the WSU zone defense for a few easy buckets and took a one point lead on a free throw.
Coming out of the under-four timeout, Powell knocked home a huge three to put WSU back in front by two. The Ducks were again fast to answer with a back-door cut to the rim, tying the game back up at 62. With the Cougs leading by two with a minute and a half to go, T.J. Bamba took the ball down the lane and finished a tough lay-up in traffic to put WSU up four. Barthelemy continued to be thorn in the Cougars’ side, connecting on a huge step-back three to answer Bamba’s bucket.
After a chaotic sequence that included Bamba calling the Cougars final timeout to get Jakimovski out of a jam and a kicked ball against Oregon that reset an expiring shot clock, Powell delivered a huge lay-up with under 25 seconds to play to push WSU up three.
Justin Powell at the rim! He comes up clutch and puts the Cougs up 3!— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUCougarMBB) February 20, 2023
https://t.co/3bKsQb8MOO #GoCougs #WAZZU pic.twitter.com/odHGJawrQz
Oregon got the final shot and got a great look. Jermaine Couisnard got Jakimovski to jump, side stepped to his left and fired off an open look for the game tying three. That three fell short, grazing the net for an air ball. The clock hit triple zeros shortly after and the Cougars survived their Beasley Coliseum season finale.
The Cougars will hope to ride the homestand sweep on the road for the final three games of the year, starting at the Stanford Cardinal on Thursday.