The Washington State Cougars collapsed in the second half, again, this time to the Boise State Broncos who were able to lock down the Cougar offense at multiple points in the second half to comeback and beat WSU, 58-52.
A pair of free throws following a flagrant foul by D.J. Rodman gave Boise State (9-4) a four-point lead and possession with under a minute to play. The Broncos would draw another pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to put the Bronco lead at six. The Cougars (8-5, 1-1 in Pac-12) would get a chance to get back into the game after making a bucket and then forcing a turnover as Boise State brought the ball up. But Tyrell Roberts missed a wide open three that would have pulled WSU within one with 35 seconds to play, and the Broncos would leave Spokane with the win.
Both teams entered the game with top-45 defenses according to KenPom, leading to a slow grind of a first half: A combined 43 points, 17 turnovers and 18 personal fouls between the Broncos and Cougars in the first twenty minutes of play.
Foul trouble was the story for both teams early on. Both Noah Williams for WSU and Mladen Armus for BSU drew two fouls early and were forced to spend most of the first half watching from the bench. Roberts entered the game for the foul-troubled Williams and led all scorers going into the break with 10.
The Cougars shot just 37.5% from the field in the first half, but the defense was able to limit the Broncos to just 20% for a 24-19 halftime lead for WSU.
Foul trouble continued to plague both sides to start the second half as well. Armus picked up his forth foul not even as many minutes into the half for Boise State. D.J. Rodman and T.J. Bamba both picked up their forth fouls before the halfway mark in the second half. Rodman, Mouhamed Gueye and T.J. Bamba would all end up fouling out by the end of the game.
The final half started unfriendly for the WSU offense. The third of Williams’ layup attempts under the rim nearly five and a half minutes into the half finally got WSU on the board. Prior to the Williams layup, Boise State was able to go on a 6-0 run in this span to take their first lead since the clock read 15:15 in the first half.
The Broncos and Cougars exchanged leads for the next five minutes before WSU went on yet another infamous field goal drought. The five and a half minute field goal drought finally ended on a Jakimovski and-one that pulled the Cougars within a possession and a Flowers three on the next possession to pull within a point.
A Tyson Degenhart three gave the Broncos a four point lead with under two minutes to go. On the other end, Jakimovski would earn his first career double-double on a tip-in for his 10th point to pull WSU back within a possession.
Rodman drew his fifth foul, the flagrant, to put Boise State on the line. Both flagrant free throws would fall to put the Broncos up four and give them possession with a chance to add to the lead. The Broncos would use the possession to push the lead up to six on another pair of free throws that would all but put the game on ice.
It was an all-too-familiar sight for WSU fans. The Cougars shot just 26.5% from the field in the second half while Boise State hit 46.2% of their shots in the final half. Boise State more than doubled their points in the first half, scoring 39 in the second half to WSU’s 28. The Cougars led by as many as nine in this game.
The Cougars will get a week break to regroup before entering conference play for the remainder of the season. The rival Washington Huskies will come to Pullman next Wednesday.