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WSU can’t capitalize on Rice game tying trey, fall to Cal in OT, 81-75

Despite a seven point lead with two minutes to go, the Cougars couldn’t hang on for devastating loss.

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at California Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

After Myles Rice sent the game to overtime with a game tying three at the buzzer, the Washington State Cougars couldn’t come out with the win against the California Golden Bears, losing 81-75.

At one point in the second half, WSU (13-6, 4-4 in Pac-12) were on a 28-14 run to flip the Cal (7-12, 3-5) seven point lead, into a WSU seven point lead. The Cougars even held that lead with two minutes to go and yet the Golden Bears were able to piece together a 10-0 run to steal the lead away. In overtime, Cal grabbed the lead early and never relinquished it.

Both offenses went shot for shot early on, but Cal gained an edge with an 18-2 run to go up 11 as WSU couldn’t make a field goal for seven minutes. A Rice jumper to end the drought proved to be the shot that shattered the invisible lid on the rim for the rest of the Cougar offense. Oscar Cluff added on with a bucket inside, Jaylen Wells and Andrej Jakimovski each knocked down jumpers of their own for an 8-2 Cougar run. While a Jakimovski three and a Rueben Chinyelu layup brought the deficit to three, Cal answered with a pair of dunks to push the lead back up to seven before the halftime horn.

Down nine in the second half, WSU finally put together their first run of at least three unanswered scores. Rice and Jakimovski kicked off the drive with a free throw and layup each and Jaylen Wells bookended the 9-0 run to tie the game at 42.

Part of Cal’s early success was their three ball, hitting 5/10 of their triples including a bank shot and a trio of treys from Jalen Cone. In the second half, Cal couldn’t hit a bucket inside or out, missing their first four three point attempts and falling into a five minute and four and a half minute field goal drought to allow WSU back into things.

Cone answered WSU’s game tying bucket with a jumper, but Isaac Jones cashed back-to-back jumpers to give WSU their first lead of the second half. After Fardaws Aimaq hit a pair of free throws, Rice gave WSU the lead right back with a triple and Cluff extended it to five with free throws and later six with an and-one after collecting his own rebound.

As Cal tried to claw back into the game, the Cougars answered each bucket quickly to hold a seven-point lead into the final two minutes of the game. At this point in the game, ESPN projected a 90.6% chance to win and KenPom gave WSU a 95.8% chance. Cal began their ascent up the win probability mountain with an and-one to get the deficit to four. After a Rice missed three, Cal cashed their first three of the half to cut the Cougar lead all the way down to one within a minute. A shot clock violation on WSU’s potential game icing possession handed Cal a chance to take the lead with 35 seconds to go. Jalyn Tyson, who made the three on the last possession, rolled right off a screen with an open lane to the basket to give Cal the lead.

Now with their own chance to answer, Rice couldn’t get his midrange jumper to fall with eight seconds remaining. Cal cashed both their free throws to get their lead to three and the Cougs would get one last chance to put five extra minutes on the clock with overtime. WSU got the ball into their clutch freshman’s hands, Rice, who fired off a three from the top of the arc and drained it with zeros on the clock. The second straight game in which Cal gave up a game tying or go ahead three at the buzzer.

In overtime however, WSU couldn’t carry over the momentum from Rice’s game tying shot. Cal jumped out to a lead with a 6-0 run and while WSU answered with a Jakimovski three and Jones dunk, the Golden Bears held WSU off the scoreboard while they went on a game sealing 8-0 run. Jakimovski added a layup with two seconds left to make the score closer.

A highly disappointing loss for a WSU team that had been riding high after grabbing three straight wins and setting themselves up in great position to make a run to March. While this loss does sting, it is far from a back breaking loss for WSU’s March hopes. There is still a lot of basketball to play and bountiful opportunities to make up for todays loss.

WSU’s next chance to get this loss out of their heads will be on Wednesday against the Utah Utes.