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Wells and Jakimovski deliver career nights to lift WSU over OSU, 64-58

Keep on marching.

Ashley Davis

The 306th all-time meeting between the Washington State Cougars and Oregon State Beavers belonged to the Cougars, sneaking away with a gritty 64-58 win.

It wasn’t pretty, but WSU (17-6, 8-4 in Pac-12) will hold on to their second place spot in the Pac-12 standings and continue to make a push for March. The offenses combined for 26 total turnovers, WSU shot just 34.4% from inside the arc and OSU (11-12, 3-9) hit just 25% of their three attempts. Jaylen Wells carried the weight offensively for WSU with a career-high 24 points — scoring 18 in the first half — and Andrej Jakimovski added on with a career-high five made treys.

Turnovers plagued WSU’s early offense with a trio of mishaps in the first five minutes, matching the amount of shots WSU had missed in that time. Fortunately for WSU, the Beavers could only convert one of the turnovers into points, keeping the game within a possession for the first eight minutes. Wells handed WSU the first two-possession lead of the game with a jumper and a trey. This proved to be just the beginning of a nuclear first half for the junior from Sacramento. On the next possession, Wells hit another three. Then a few minutes later, hit another. And another.

Wells tacked on a fastbreak dunk to cap his run of 15 straight points for WSU, scoring all 18 of their first 24 points. Jakimvoski became the first Coug not named Wells to score in over 11 minutes with a trey. OSU star Jordan Pope scored on a mid-range jumper before half to bring the Beavers within one heading into the halftime break.

Jakimovski opened up the second half party with a three just seconds in, then came up with a steal on the other end. A few minutes later, Wells made it a career high in points with his fifth triple of the game and tacked on his sixth for good measure a minute later.

But even though Wells’ flaming hot shooting carried into the second half, it still couldn’t light any of his teammates offense as the rest of the Cougar offense sputtered. Thankfully for the Cougs, the Beaver offense wasn’t setting the world on fire either, but had enough answers to keep the game within five.

OSU eventually broke through the five-point barrier with a trey to tie the game at 45. Isaiah Watts helped put WSU back in front with a magical and-one, going up and under through the teeth of the Beaver defense.

With the Cougs holding on by three and over five and a half minutes remaining, Myles Rice tried driving to the rim and originally drew a foul, but after a review, it was determined to be a flagrant foul on Rice for his elbow making contact with an OSU player’s chin. The Beavers were able to knock down only one of the two foul shots, but grabbed two points on the possession to tie the game up.

On WSU’s next possession, Isaac Jones retook the lead with a strong and-one and Rice added on with a bucket. Dexter Akanno answered with what appeared to be a three, but a big toe on the line changed it to a long two. Holding on to a three-point lead again, Jakimovski came through with a net burning triple to give WSU their largest lead of the second half at six. He made it a career high five made treys shortly after to push the lead out to a game icing nine points.

Despite not getting big games from most of their offense and their two best players — with Rice and Jones going 6 of 16 from the field — WSU found a way to claw their way to a huge victory. With games against the Oregon Ducks (Saturday) and Arizona Wildcats upcoming, WSU can’t afford to stumble down the stretch, which makes games like tonight so impactful. Taking care of business in a hard place to play and coming out with a win no matter how you get it is monumental as March rapidly approaches.

Now it’s on to Eugene as the Cougs look to avenge their loss earlier in the year to Oregon.