WSU (18-6, 9-4 in Pac-12) now holds second place in the Pac-12 all to themselves and could catapult into first place if Colorado knocks off Arizona later tonight. Oregon (16-8, 8-5) never led by more than three in the game and despite closing the lead down to a possession inside four minutes remaining, only hit one of their last eight shot attempts from the field.
The battle for second in the Pac-12 lived up to the hype. Neither team gained a double-digit point lead, though WSU held the lead for 30 of 40 minutes and kept the Ducks at an arms length, countering every Duck run with a huge bucket.
WSU jumped out in front early with Jaylen Wells continuing his searing shooting stretch with a trio of threes in the first 11 minutes to help build a seven-point lead thanks to a Myles Rice and-one shortly after.
The Ducks scraped together a 5-0 run to pull back within a bucket, but Wells again answered the call with his fourth trey of the half to ignite WSU’s own 6-0 run. However, the Ducks rattled off a 6-0 run in the final two minutes of the half to reduce the halftime deficit to two.
Oregon rode the momentum into the second half with an early 6-0 run to give the Ducks their first lead of the game since the 12-minute mark in the first half. As they have proven time and time again this season, the Cougars had an answer. Rice started the run with a bucket inside and Oscar Cluff extended the run with a jumper before Rice closed out the run with a pair of charity stripe shots and a layup.
The Ducks continued to try and claw into the deficit, but were met with heavy Cougar resistance, answering every Duck run with one of their own to keep them at bay. With under three and a half minutes remaining and down six, Brennan Rigsby cashed in a trey to bring the Ducks within three. Isaac Jones was able to answer with a pair of free throws pushing the lead back up two possessions.
Though WSU could not get that shot to put the Ducks away. Each Oregon missed was met with an opportunity to put things away and the Cougars could not find the bottom of the net. Jermaine Couisnard finally broke the two minute stalemate with a trey to pull within two. On the ensuing possession, Wells drew contact on his shot late in the shot clock to send the junior to the line.
With the game hanging in the balance, Wells calmly knocked down the first to extend the lead to three, but couldn’t hit the second. The ball deflected off the rim and right into the paws of Rice, who was fouled immediately. Rice cashed both of his free throws to put the Cougs up two possessions with the shot clock turned off. While WSU forced an Oregon turnover, Jones stepped out of bounds on the ensuing in-bound to give the Ducks one last chance with 12.4 remaining. Oregon desperation shot missed, Rice collected the rebound and drove home the final free throw to ice away a monumental weekend for WSU.
The win puts WSU at 4-3 in Quad 1 games and yet another shiny win to add to a loaded resume for the Cougars. With just two road games remaining and only one game left against a team currently projected to beat WSU, the Cougars just need to keep on taking care of business. That continues with a home weekend series and a chance at sweet vengeance against the California Golden Bears on Thursday night.
If you can find a way to get to Beasley this weekend, PACK BEASLEY. There’s a real chance this team will be sitting in first place in the Pac-12 standings by then. In a season where WSU is accomplishing things that hadn’t been seen since the upper tank at Beasley was filled consistently, it deserves one of those vintage raucous and packed environments we know that historic building is capable of. A rowdy student section that forms a long line outside Beasley and stays on their feet the whole game like they do for every Cougar Football Saturday. It’s all possible and it’s well past earned for this team.