Cougs lose in surprisingly close fashion to No. 6 Arizona

Cougs shoot dismal sub 20% from three for majority of game



WSU center Adrame Diongue looks for the hoop during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Arizona, Jan 26.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball (9-12, 4-6 Pac-12) lost to Arizona (12-9, 4-6 Pac-12) in a rematch of an upset the Cougars completed earlier in the month. Coming off a couple of tough losses and facing a team that was coming off a huge win against UCLA, the Cougs had their work cut out for them. Unfortunately, they did not manage to pull out a second miraculous upset against the Wildcats as they lost 63-58.

The first quarter started with a 6-0 run by the Cats, followed by a 5-0 Cougar run. Multiple stops by the Cougs put them in the position to go up a few different times, but they failed to convert on all of them and the score ended up 9-5 with just under 16 minutes left in the half.

With 5:43 left, that score was 28-20. While the Wildcats were up, they were also shooting 71% from three to the Cougs’ 17%. If both normalized, the lead could change quickly.

At the half, the Cougs lowered their 3-point percentage to 11, but the Cats had also dropped to 42%. The lead was only 36-32. WSU had a chance. There had been a number of shots missed that simply should have gone down, a number of no-call fouls that should have been called and a number of fouls that should not have been.

WSU basketball head coach Kyle Smith argues with an official during an NCAA basketball game against Arizona, Jan. 26. in Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, Wash.

Justin Powell led Coug scorers with 10 and Ąžuolas Tubelis led Arizona with the same amount.

WSU guard Justin Powell shoots the ball during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Arizona, Jan 26. in Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, Wash.

The second half started about as close as the first half ended. Both teams had some bad turnovers and bad misses. With 13:12 left in the game, the Cougs were down only 4, the score 40-36.

The Cougs and Cats continued to go blow for blow-for-blow a while. Unfortunately, as the minutes dwindled, the Cats started locking up the Cougar offense and they started scoring much better than they had been. This led them to a 52-44 lead with six minutes left. The Cougs would need to step it up on both ends to have any chance of repeating the upset.

That did not happen.

While there were signs of life, such as a quick 5-point run to cut the lead to the same number, it wasn’t enough. The final score was 63-58.

Leading the scoring for the Cougs were Mouhamed Gueye and Powell, each with 15. The entire bench scored only 3 points combined, although they provided extremely valuable defense.

WSU forward Mouhamed Gueye shoots a free throw during an NCAA basketball game against Arizona, Jan. 26. in Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, Wash.

Loss or not, this is an impressive game for the Cougs. Keeping it close with a top 10 team is usually reserved for the other top teams in the nation. Once again, the Cougs played a fantastic defensive game but made so few of their 3-point shots that it did not matter. It is very hard to win with sub-20% 3-point shooting no matter the opponent and it nears impossibility against a team as good as Arizona.

Next up for WSU is Arizona State, another rematch of a previous matchup from this season. Wazzu lost last time out, but it was a close one. Now at home and coming off a great performance despite the loss, the Cougs should have a real shot to down the Sun Devils in Pullman.

The Cougs will try to change course at 5 p.m. Saturday in Beasley Coliseum. Fans can watch on the ESPNU or the ESPN app.