The Washington State Cougars and Stanford Cardinal began with an unprecedented start and ended in all-too-familiar fashion for the Cougars: The Cardinal outscored the Cougars 35-22 in the second half to secure a win on a Thursday afternoon in Pullman, 62-57.
After a 75-minute delay in a game already pushed back 18 hours by the conference, the Cougars gave away an 11-point lead in the second half by not scoring a point for 12:05 and failing to record a field goal for 14:21. Stanford closed out the final 17 minutes of the game on a 30-11 run.
WSU (9-7 overall, 2-3 Pac-12) got going early, scoring the game’s first seven points. Despite being undersized against the fourth-tallest team in the country, the Cougar defense held tough through the first ten minutes, holding Stanford (10-4, 3-1) to just eight points and forcing six Cardinal turnovers.
The Cardinal retested the WSU defense coming out of the timeout and closed the Cougar lead to just two with just six minutes left in the half. The Cougars responded with a 12-4 run to grow the lead to 10, forcing Stanford to come up on the negative side of things when the Cardinal were on offense. Stanford sent both teams to the locker room for the second time in 90 minutes with a desperation three in the closing seconds with WSU leading 35-26. Despite Stanford testing WSU in the paint, the Cardinal’s attempts to stop Mohammed Gueye came up negative as the freshman had 12 points in the first half.
Gueye continued to give Stanford issues, scoring off a Noah Williams pass in the paint then throwing a ferocious dunk on the next possession over Stanford’s Jaiden Delaire to push the Stanford deficit to 10. The dunk set another career high in points for Gueye with 16. Flowers hit a contested three to give WSU an 11-point lead. Everything looked good.
Then, the infamous second half Cougars returned.
Stanford got red-hot on the offensive end and timed it up with the worst scoring drought of the year from WSU. The Cardinal went on a 23-0 run as WSU’s scoring drought reached just over 12 minutes. By the time Williams got a free throw to fall, the Cardinal lead had ballooned to 12. The field goal drought ended with a Michael Flowers three, and with the Cardinal going on a two-minute scoring drought over their own, the Cougars showed some life late. The Cougar defense forced a few Stanford turnovers and miraculously, cut the Stanford lead down to eight with just over a minute and a half to go. The Cougars overslept that wake-up call, as the fight was a little too late. Though they were able to cut the lead to as low as five in the final 15 seconds with a 10-5 run, the Cardinal survived the late desperation punches.
Just when Cougar fans had thought they had seen it all with the 75-minute delay to the game, the Cougars’ double-digit long scoring and field goal droughts were the worst we had seen of the Cougars second half collapses this season. Not even the select open shots the Cougars could find in the final 17 minutes of the game would fall. The team looked unenergized throughout the entire drought, not showing many signs of life until the defense created a 10-second violation with under three minutes to go.
Gueye was tied with Spencer Jones and Brandon Angel for the leading scorers with 16. Gueye only had four points in the second half, all coming in the first two minutes of the half.
Tyrell Roberts was originally slated to start for the Cougars but was scratched at the last minute with Noah Williams taking his place. He was apparently set to join Dishon Jackson and D.J. Rodman as inactives. The teams gathered at center court for tip-off at 2:00 p.m., as (re)scheduled. There was some confusion as the referees and coaches gathered. WSU’s PA Glenn Johnson then announced that the teams were in a 10-minute delay. The delay extended 65 minutes as Stanford’s team physicians were reportedly unsatisfied with the WSU test results. With the status of the game in the air, 73 minutes after the scheduled tip-off, Glenn Johnson gave the crowd the good news that the game was back on with tip-off scheduled for 3:15PM.
It was instead Matt DeWolf who was inactive after the delay after being present for pre-game warmups.
Next up: Another scheduled afternoon tip-off on Saturday against the California Golden Bears at 1 p.m. back at Beasley Coliseum.