Cougs lose to game-winning shot in Colorado

One of the most heartbreaking ways to lose

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COLE QUINN

WSU forward Mouhamed Gueye drives toward the hoop during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Detroit Mercy, Nov. 25.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball (9–12, 4–6 Pac-12) stayed in the Rockies on Sunday to play Colorado (12–9, 4–6 Pac-12). The Cougs were coming off a big loss to Utah but also had their leading scorer TJ Bamba returning. Unfortunately, despite playing hard all game, a few mistakes and some bad luck in the last minutes turned this into a loss. The final score was 58–55.

It is impressive that the Cougs were in this one at all. Bamba jumped straight back into his role, leading the team with 18 points.

Unfortunately, he was one of only two Cougs in double-digits. The other was Andrej Jakimovski with 12.

Three Cougs scored no points. Adrame Dioungue was one of those. While it would be nice to get points from him, he is not typically expected to put up more than a few. Dylan Darling was another, but he played for only one minute, you can not blame him for that.

The third no-score Coug was the problem. Colorado held Mouhamed Gueye to no points on seven shot attempts. He had four fouls. This was certainly not an acceptable performance from one of the Cougs’ offensive stars, and those four fouls made it so he was only able to play 20 minutes.

Gueye has had offensive ups and downs all season, and this was the lowest down yet. The defense that fans hoped he would play on Tristan da Silva was all but absent, and da Silva led Colorado with 27 points on 84% shooting.

Despite these issues, the Cougs managed to keep it close to the end. With 25 seconds left, Bamba hit a free throw to tie the game 55-55. 21 seconds later, KJ Simpson put up a prayer from three-point range, and it went in. The Cougs tried to run the ball back down the floor and take a three of their own, but there was not enough time to get set. Bamba’s final shot missed, and the buzzer sounded.

It is a heartbreaking thing to lose on a game-winning shot. It hurt even worse because Colorado took only seven 3-pointers all game and made only two. Nobody would have seen it coming.

This is not an unfamiliar loss. The Cougs shot poorly and still kept it close with mostly good defense. If they had shot better, they would have won. Perhaps that is always true in basketball. It is hard to keep saying this, but moving forward the Cougs simply need to find answers when the few simple sets they run are not working.

Next up for the Cougs is the AP Poll’s No. 6 Arizona, the second rematch of the season. After going into their stadium and blowing them out when they were a top-five team, the Cougs will now look to sweep them. This one will be tough, but the Cougs have done it once before already. Gueye is due for a good game after this one, keep an eye on him.

The Cougs will try to make some magic happen at 8 p.m. Thursday in Beasley Coliseum. If you are in Pullman, you better be in Beasley and you better be loud. If you are not, you can watch on the Pac-12 Network.