WSU hoops drop two in So-Cal

Men’s basketball’s losing streak reaches five games



WSU forward Mouhamed Gueye (35) dunks the ball during the first half of an NCAA collegiate basketball game against Arizona, Feb. 10.

AARIK LONG, Evergreen reporter

The Cougs seemingly have lost all hope of an NCAA Tournament berth with a pair of losses to the Los Angeles schools over the weekend. On Thursday, WSU lost 76-56 to No. 13 UCLA. On Sunday, they fell on a last-second buzzer-beater to No. 17 USC, 62-60.

Despite the lopsided final score in the UCLA game, the Cougs kept it close for much of the game. At halftime, the Bruins led by 10. However, an 8-2 run to start the second half cut that lead down to just four and got WSU firmly back into the game.

That was the last time they would be remotely close. An 18-2 run by the Bruins put the dagger into the Cougar hearts. At its largest, UCLA jumped out to a 25-point lead at 68-43.

Tyrell Roberts led the Cougs in scoring with 14 points on a not-so-great 5-14 shooting performance, including a less-than-stellar 4-11 from three. Andrej Jakimovski and Noah Williams joined Roberts in double-digit scoring with 11 each.

Jakimovski also led the team in rebounds with six boards, while Williams and Michael Flowers tied for the team-lead in assists with three each.

As a team, WSU shot 28.3% from the field and 23.3% from three, numbers not nearly good enough to upset a top 15 team in the nation. That has been the story as of late for WSU, however, with the Cougs playing solid defense but struggling to make it count on the offensive end of the court. 

Following the loss to UCLA, WSU took a couple of days to recuperate before taking on the Trojans. The game ended with a near upset after the Cougs found their shooting touch again, sort of.

The three-point attack started early for WSU, as the Cougs hit nine first-half threes, shooting 52.9% from behind the arc in the first period of play. The most notable of those first-half performances have to be Roberts going 4-6 and Williams going a perfect 3-3 from three.

However, the three-ball was the only thing working for WSU. The Cougs went 2-18 for a whopping 11% from inside the three-point line in the first half. 

WSU took a 32-30 lead into the half, despite the strange shooting performance.

The second half was a similar story. WSU took 14 threes and 14 twos. Six of the threes fell, while just three of the two-point attempts would go through the net.

With 2:35 to go in the game, Roberts hit a jump shot inside the three-point line to make it a 60-57 game in favor of the Cougs. USC’s Max Agbonkpolo answered 20 seconds later with a three to tie it. From there, Roberts missed a two-point attempt, Flowers missed a three-pointer, and Dishon Jackson missed a turnaround jumper from inside the paint. 

The Trojans also missed two jump shots during this time, but they made the one that counted. With 20.3 seconds, the Trojans inbounded the ball off of a timeout. USC inbounded to Boogie Ellis, who made one pass to Drew Peterson before immediately getting the ball back.

Then, working one-on-one against Roberts, Ellis battled to the free-throw line, where he hit a fading jump shot over Roberts. The ball swished through the net as the clock hit 0.2 seconds remaining, dashing all hopes for Cougar fans.

Roberts once again led WSU in scoring with 16 points. Williams (14 points), Flowers (12 points) and Jakimovski (10 points) all reached that double-digit scoring mark. 

Jakimovski also grabbed 11 boards, earning his third double-double of the season.

Jackson made his Cougar return after surgery earlier in the season for an eye injury. In just 24 minutes of play, Jackson recorded five points, four rebounds, an assist and three blocks.