The Washington State Cougars’ season came to an end on Wednesday when they lost in the Pac-12 tournament for the ninth consecutive time, this time at the hands of the Oregon Ducks — in overtime — 64-62.
The Cougs finish Ernie Kent’s fourth season 12-19 overall and 4-14 in the conference.
WSU led for the vast majority of the game, but it was nip-and-tuck throughout the second half. Oregon eventually took a three-point lead with a 7-0 run late in regulation that culminated with a dunk from Troy Brown with about a minute to go off a steal from Drick Bernstine.
But Malachi Flynn did what he’s done in a number of close games this season, draining a three with 32 seconds to go, and when Payton Pritchard missed a jumper at the buzzer, the game went to overtime.
The Cougs again took the lead and held it for most of OT, but again the Ducks closed strong: A layup from Brown with a minute to go and then a layup from Pritchard 30 seconds later gave them back the lead for the first time since early in the OT.
Flynn aggressively went to the basket on the ensuing possession but his shot (or possibly pass) was erased by shot blocker extraordinaire Kenny Wooten, and the Cougs were forced to foul Pritchard to send him to the line. An 80 percent shooter from there, Pritchard would shockingly miss both ... but the rebound was wrestled away from Bernstine by Brown.
However, Brown couldn’t seal the deal either, missing the second of the two shots, and the Cougs needed just a bucket to tie the game, or a three to win.
This time, Milan Acquaah would try his luck going to the basket. But Wooten provided the same result, blocking the shot. The game — and season — was over.
It was a waste of a fine defensive performance, as the Ducks scored just 0.95 points per possession — the least the Cougs had allowed since giving up 0.80 to Cal in mid-January. As they had so often the season, WSU’s turnovers proved fatal: The Cougs gave the ball away on nearly a quarter of their possessions, which was too much to overcome in such a tight game.
Flynn finished with a team-high 22 points on 7-of-19 shooting with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 turnovers. Robert Franks chipped in 16, while Acquaah was the only other Coug in double figures with 11 points.
Now ... we wait.