Cougs take last-second nail-biter over Stanford

No illusions, Cougars win down the wire



WSU forward DJ Rodman passes the ball during an NCAA basketball game against Stanford, Jan. 14.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

The clock was closing in on three minutes left in the game. The Cougs had not made a shot from the field in almost five minutes. With the shot clock counting down and with only a couple of seconds left, the ball swung to DJ Rodman. He made it, obviously, and the Cougs were up by four.

Stanford managed a stop and a score in that time. Cougs led by only 2 with the clock closing in on two minutes and Rodman gets open from three in transition. The ball is back in his hands and back in the hoop a moment later. Cougs up five.

Seconds later on the other end, Stanford passes it into the paint for what should be an easy dunk. They did not account for Rodman, who jumped across the key and taped the ball out. While it initially appeared as if it is off Rodman, the review reveals it to be off the Stanford player. Coug ball.

That is the thing about DJ: he makes winning plays.

WSU men’s basketball (9-10, 4-4 Pac-12) stayed in Pullman on Saturday to play Stanford (5-12, 0-7 Pac-12) in the back half of the Bay Area home matchups. Coming off a great win against Cal without leading scorer TJ Bamba, the Cougs looked to continue a hot streak while still lacking him.

The game started rough for the Cougs, as Stanford jumped out to lead for much of the first by shooting the lights out. The Cardinal is not a team typically expected to shoot well in any given game, sitting at 30% on the season, but by the end of the half they were shooting 56%

The Cougs, on the other hand, struggled a bit. Offensively they were putting up decent shots and making a lot of tough ones inside, but Mouhamed Gueye was quickly put into foul trouble and so the back stretch of the first half was played with no center on the floor.

WSU forward Mouhamed Gueye shoots a free-throw during an NCAA basketball game against Stanford, Jan. 14.

If Stanford was making a third of their 3-pointers like they usually do instead of nearly doubling that it would have been a big Cougar lead. Sometimes, though, teams just get hot and that is exactly what the Cardinal were.

Going into halftime, Rodman was leading all Coug scorers with 9 points on 75% shooting and 66% from 3-point range. 2022 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Harrison Ingram led the game with 14 points for Stanford. Stanford had led for over 10 straight minutes and the Cougs needed to slow them down, heat up or both.

Coming out of the break with Gueye still on the bench due to foul trouble, the Cougs looked to Adrame Diongue at center to provide some much-needed size against the massive Maxime Raynaud.

After two minutes The Cougs held a 1-point lead but Andrej Jakimovski went down and was pulled due to an injury during a paint scuffle. Jabe Mullins replaced him and WSU continued to hold a small lead.

Jakimovski returned, seemingly alright despite the scare and the game continued to be back and forth for much of the half.

WSU forward Andrej Jakimovski looks for a pass during an NCAA basketball game against Stanford, Jan. 14.

The last three minutes went as described at the top, with Rodman making the plays needed to keep the Cougs ahead.

With 40 seconds left, Stanford took a timeout down 60-57. With 25 seconds left on the same possession, they took another one. Three seconds after inbounds, a Raynaud layup cut the Cougar lead to 1 point.

Jakimovski, who led the scoring for the Cougs with 17, missed his free throw and Stanford ended up with the ball with 3.4 seconds left, still down 1. It was to come down to the last shot. The inbounds went to Raynaud at the 3-point line and he fired. Deafening silence came over the arena. On a lot of days, this shot would have gone in and the Cougs would have “Coug’d it” or whatever. Saturday was not one of those days.

It clanked and so did the gut-wrenching putback try. The Cougars win 60-59. In Rodman’s hands lies the game-winning rebound.

Rodman creates winning plays.

WSU forward Andrej Jakimovski celebrates after defeating Stanford 60-59, Jan. 14.

Rodman and the Cougs see their next action against Utah in the first rematch of the season for the Cougs. In December, WSU lost an overtime thriller 67-65 to Utah.

The Cougs will try to flip the last matchup’s fate at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. Fans can watch on Pac-12 Network.