The Washington State Cougars came oh-so-close to snapping their long Pac-12 losing streak, but couldn't close the deal against the Colorado Buffaloes on Thursday night, falling 88-81 in double overtime.
A three-point play from Que Johnson put Washington State up 77-74 with 22 seconds left in the first overtime. He then had a chance to ice the game with two free throws. He missed one, and Colorado's George King hit a fadeaway 3-pointer as time expired to send the game into a second overtime.
WSU was out of gas at that point, and Colorado put the Cougs away for good after an Ike Iroegbu long jumper was errant with under a minute to go.
There has been and will be plenty of debate over whether or not WSU should have fouled, up three with just seconds to go. That may have been the plan, but Josh Hawkinson and his four fouls ended up on King at the end, and perhaps WSU didn't want to take a chance in having its best player and free throw shooter head to the bench if the game was extended. King hit a tough shot over Hawkinson. and now Ernie Kent will be second-guessed.
EDIT: Or this, I guess:
Kent took blame for not fouling prior to King 3-pointer. Said coaches assumed would be up 4 after QJ FT and told players not to foul.— Jacob Thorpe (@JacobThorpeSR) February 12, 2016
It was a battle just to get to that point for WSU. Ny Redding was big down the stretch. He secured two offensive rebounds, the second off a tip from Conor Clifford, to set WSU up with a chance to take lead right before Johnson's three-point play in the first overitme.
Befote that, Redding sent the game into overtime with a runner, then gave WSU the lead with a rare 3-pointer before driving and setting up Clifford for a layup.
It looked like Colorado would run away with the game midway through the second half after taking a 51-41 lead. But WSU would bounce back with a 9-0 run before Brett Boese hit a three at just over six minutes left to give WSU a 58-57 lead, its first since 2-0. A Colorado turnover and a goaltend followed, pushing WSU's lead to three, its biggest of the game at 60-57. But things unraveled after that. The next three possessions ended in a turnover, and Colorado suddenly led 63-60.
WSU wouldn't fold. Boese hit another huge three to tie the game, and the contest was destined to go down to the wire. Unfortunately for WSU, it couldn't get many stops in overtime, and the Buffs were able to match them blow-for-blow until the Cougs just ran out of gas.
Johnson led all scorers with 22 points, but he took 22 shots and 13 free throws to get there. Hawkinson chipped in with his usual double-double of 18 points and 13 boards. Brett Boese excelled in extended playing time, hitting three 3-pointers en route to 13 points.
Surprisingly, the Cougs contended with Colorado while Iroegbu struggled. The junior guard finished with just eight points on 10 shots and six turnovers.
In the end, WSU's losing streak is extended to 10, with another looking likely as they head to Utah on Sunday.