Cougs fall in Spokane

WSU drop third game of season on buzzer beater



WSU forward Andrej Jakimovski (23) passes the ball during a college basketball game against Weber State University at Beasley Coliseum, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021.

TOM ABBOTT, Evergreen sports editor

The WSU men’s basketball team recorded their third loss of the season in upset fashion as South Dakota State hit a buzzer-beating three-point shot to win the game 77-74.

With 23 seconds left on the clock, South Dakota dribbled across half-court and took their time setting up the game-winning shot. Guard Baylor Scheierman found the ball in his hands as time expired. Scheierman worked a screen to the left side of the court and put an ankle-breaking move on WSU’s Andrej Jakimovski to find the open shot. 

Scheierman had the green light from the South Dakota State bench and wasted no time with a step-back three-pointer. Spokane Arena could only watch as Scheierman’s shot swished through the basket. South Dakota State rushed the court to celebrate Scheierman’s clutch shot with the upset victory now complete. Scheierman finished the game with 11 points and eight rebounds.

South Dakota State’s ability to sink threes was the difference-maker for the Jackrabbits. Schierman’s three-point shot was a fitting end to South Dakota State’s 10-16 effort behind the arc. 

WSU fared much worse from three-point range, going 9-35 from deep. Overall, the Cougs outshot South Dakota State 67-52, but the shots just would not fall for WSU. 

“We definitely settled for some contested shots and got played through our post,” WSU head coach Kyle Smith said. “I felt like it was tough to play them, against the way they play. They spread you out and shoot the three and then we weren’t getting the pay out on the glass.”

Michael Flowers led the Cougars on offense, putting up his highest-scoring game as a Coug with 24 points. The game was the third time Flowers had put up more than 20 points this season. Flowers was the playmaker for the Cougs, responsible for five assists in the game.

TJ Bamba scored the second-most for WSU with 19 points. Bamba took the most shots for WSU with 15 shot attempts. Bamba’s 19-point performance is his highest-scoring game as a Coug.

Even with Flowers and Bamba playing excellent, WSU’s lack of depth kept the Cougs at bay. The next highest scorer behind Bamba was DJ Rodman with seven points. In previous games this season, WSU’s success has been due to multiple players putting up big scoring numbers. However, when the majority of a team has less than five points scored, victory becomes difficult to achieve. 

“We dug ourselves a hole,” Smith said. “We came back, got a lead. We just don’t know quite yet how to handle success in those situations.

Guard Noah Freidel led South Dakota State to victory with 23 points. Freidel was consistent from three-point range, going 4-6 from behind the arc. His stellar performance against WSU maintains his top-scorer title, now averaging 19.8 points per game on the season.

South Dakota State freshman guard Zeke Mayo had his best performance of the year against WSU. Mayo put up 17 points for the Jackrabbits, the second-most on the team. He was perfect from three-point range, going 3-3 on those shots. Mayo has been on fire in recent games, putting up more than ten points in three of the last four South Dakota State matchups.

The Jackrabbits were unphased by their vast height disadvantage close to the rim. South Dakota State outrebounded WSU 36-34. This is the first time WSU has been outrebounded since the Cougar loss against Eastern Washington.

The WSU bigs were somewhat absent from the scoring effort. WSU’s Efe Abogidi had a disappointing four-point game. Mouhamed Gueye put up five points, but ran into foul trouble which prevented him from taking control in the paint.

“They just got physical with us,” Smith said. “Mo did have four offensive boards, but got in foul trouble and Efe struggled with their physicality. They kind of just put them in the basket a couple times, so we got to be able to get to line, get the ball inside and do some things. Early we were good there and we got away from it second half.”

The Cougs look to bounce back with a win against New Mexico State at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Beasley Coliseum.