Already coming into tonight victorious over OSU (3-26, 1-18 in Pac-12) on Monday, WSU (17-13, 10-9) were even heavier favorites to repeat the outcome with the Beavers down starters Dashawn Davis & Warith Alatishe. Leaving Oregon State with just seven active player with only six on scholarship. OSU fought hard all game but WSU staved off the Beavers valiant efforts, holding on to the lead late in the game.
The Cougars looked the part early, jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead on an opening bucket from Dishon Jackson, a three from Noah Williams and a jumper from Mouhammed Gueye. The undermanned Beavers however, weren’t going down so easy, responding with a 12-1 run to take a four point lead. OSU continued to hang tough, building a lead that reached as high as nine with eight minutes to go in the first half. WSU finally woke up, going on a 16-3 run of their own to take the lead right back up four. Maurice Calloo hit four free throws in the final 2:43 to tie the game heading into the half.
TJ Bamba got the crowd on its feet early in the second half with an emphatic dunk.
“I was in kill mode to be honest.” TJ Bamba said.
The Beavers continued to give WSU troubles early in the second half. Whenever the Cougars tried to pull away, the Beavers grabbed the Cougars by the tail and pulled them right back into it.
WSU seemingly took control later in the half. With the game tied at 49 a piece, Michael Flowers got a jumper to fall to kick off a 19-8 WSU run to give WSU their biggest lead of the game at 11 with just 2:46 to go. But once again, the Beavers wouldn’t let WSU escape so easily.
Ahmad Rand, the only player to come off the bench for OSU, got a layup to fall and Dexter Akanno hit a three to pull the game within four with 1:21 to go. Flowers didn’t get the dagger three to fall with 49 seconds, handing the ball back to OSU. The Cougar defense held down the Beavers long enough on the next possession as Akanno’s three hit at the 26 second mark. Giving WSU the ball back with the shot clock turned off. Tyrell Roberts hit both of his free throws to push the lead to four with just 14 seconds left. The Beavers last two threes missed in the final seconds, giving WSU their third win in eight days.
Earlier in the season, close games like this haunted WSU. Now, all three of their wins in the last week have been won off closing the game out by knocking down the shots they need, avoiding the poisonous scoring droughts and getting the clutch stops they needed. While it’s been frustrating to watch them play in these close games all season, getting them now is better late than never.
While this season hasn’t quite lived up to the high hopes that Coug fans were dreaming of, WSU just set achieved their most Pac-12 wins since the 2007-08.
The Cougars will look to finish the regular season strong against the Oregon Ducks on Saturday at 1PM.