The Washington State Cougars took their 5-1 record across the border to Moscow and got beat by the Idaho Vandals for a second-straight year, 78-74. Improbably, WSU had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. A wild 3-point attempt from Que Johnson, one in which he tried and failed to draw a foul on a tightly-contested look after passing up a more open look seconds prior, fell off the mark and Idaho survived with its second-straight victory over Ernie Kent's squad.
With 2:36 to play, Idaho's Victor Sanders hit his fourth 3-pointer of the night (20 points on 7-12 shooting) to give the Vandals a 73-65 lead and it didn't look likely that WSU would even have a chance in the final minute. But Renard Suggs answered with a deep three of his own, followed by an Ike Iroegbu steal and layup. A block by Valentine Izundu had the Cougs on a break with a chance to tie, but this time Suggs's would-be-game-tying three clanked off the back iron, setting up the finish.
Idaho won the game on the strength of hot 3-point shooting (9-16) and dominating the glass on both ends of the floor. WSU managed just one offensive rebound, a team rebound where the Vandal player had position but was pressured into losing the ball out of bounds by Junior Longrus. On the other end, Idaho grabbed 44 percent of their own misses - the best performance by a Cougar opponent this year in that category.
Unofficially, it was also the highest free throw rate (52.6) and the best effective field goal percentage (51.8) of any WSU opponent this season. All that adds up to 1.08 points per possession for the Vandals, which (big surprise!) is the best against this year's Cougs so far.
So WSU shot 10 less free throws and got thoroughly dominated on the boards outside of Josh Hawkinson (16 points, 11 rebounds) and saw an opponent hit more than half of its 3s. That's how a team loses when it posts a 60 percent effective field goal percentage itself.
Ernie Kent, it would be real nice if you could figure out how to beat the Vandals. The Cougs face UTEP at home next on Sunday at 3 p.m. PT.