The Washington State Cougars let the lead slip away late — again — as the New Mexico State Aggies went on a 17-5 run in the final seven and a half minutes to send the Cougs to a 64-61 defeat — their fourth in their last six games.
The Aggies (9-2) outscored Washington State (7-4, 1-1 in Pac-12) 42-26 in the second half to hand the Cougars their second straight loss.
Trailing by two with 37 seconds to play, WSU got a chance to tie the game but they turned the ball over to the Aggies on a five-second call ... coming out of a timeout. After the Aggies only hit one of two free throws, WSU got another chance down three. Noah Williams drove into an open lane, but couldn’t get the layup to fall. Two more missed free throws from the Aggies gave WSU one last chance. Williams fired from the top of the arc, but the game-tying three missed and the Aggies pulled off the 18-point comeback win.
Washington State was without guard Tyrell Roberts, and D.J. Rodman received his first start of the season in place of Williams, who was visibly ill, but still came off the bench for the Cougars.
It was a hot start for the Cougars, who knocked down four threes in the first seven minutes of the game to build an 18-9 lead. The next seven minutes weren’t as friendly to the Cougars who didn’t see a shot fall until the four and a half minute mark, allowing New Mexico State to rally back and take the lead. But the Cougars would storm back and end the half on a 17-3 run to take a commanding 35-22 halftime lead.
The Cougars would once again start the half hot, making their first four shot attempts, scoring nine points in the first 129 seconds of the second half. A Williams three would get the lead up to 18 for the Cougars. But Washington State would score just 17 more points in just as many minutes, shooting just 20.8% from the field in that span. The poor shooting allowed the Aggies to slowly crawl back into the game. Teddy Allen, who scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half, knocked down a three to tie the game with 3:49 to go. Will McNair Jr. would give the Aggies the lead 41 seconds later. This would be the final made field goal of the game.
T.J. Bamba would draw a foul and knock down both free throws to tie the game at 60 with 2:23 to go before the Aggies would end the game with 4 free throws to WSU’s one.
The Aggies shot 9-24 (37.5%) from the field in the first half but 13-27 (48.1%) and 4-9 (44.4%) from distance in the second half.
WSU shot just 33.3% from the field and 10-33 (30.3%) from beyond the arc overall. Michael Flowers led Washington State in scoring with 15, shooting 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. Jabari Rice of New Mexico State led all scorers with 22.
The Cougars welcome the Bears of Northern Colorado to Pullman on Saturday at 1 p.m. to try and get things back on track.