Cougs beat Stanford to reach .500 in Pac-12

Bamba scores 22 total, 17 in second half



WSU guard TJ Bamba drives to the hoop during an NCAA basketball game against Oregon, Feb. 19, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

It can be hard watching the Cougs as they make games closer than they should be against lesser competition, but on the bright side, it is never boring.

WSU men’s basketball (14-15, 9-9 Pac-12) beat Stanford (11-17, 5-12 Pac-12) by a score of 67-63, Thursday night.

Stanford jumped out to an early lead, with Maxime Raynaud dunking immediately after catching the opening tip. Offense was at a premium for the first while, and with 13 minutes left, Jabe Mullins tied the game at 8-8 with a three.

Harrison Ingram gave the Cardinal the lead with a three of his own moments later. Despite that quick exchange, it was clear that either team was going to break 50, the defenses were going to have to get a lot worse or the offenses a lot better.

With 7:30 left in the game, the Cougs took the lead via a couple of threes from TJ Bamba and Andrej Jakimovski. They kept this lead for the rest of the second half, consistently scoring and holding the Stanford offense just short of climbing back into the lead.

At halftime, the score was 30-28. Mouhamed Gueye led all scorers with nine points and eight rebounds, including a timely three toward the end of the half. Jakimovski was right behind him with eight. Raynaud was leading the Cardinal with eight of his own.

WSU had made half of their threes and 55% of their total shots. Stanford was lower than that in both categories, sitting at 46% from the field and 36% from outside.

It really was not supposed to be this close at the half for a hot Cougars team facing a lukewarm Stanford team. The second half needed to be different, or it was going to be another scary close game.

Luckily, the Cougs managed to hold and extend their lead to start the second half and with 12 minutes left, they held a 48-43 advantage.

At 7:50 in the second half, WSU called a time-out up by 4. The lead was still there, but WSU had failed to get much further ahead.

With seven minutes left, Justin Powell attempted a three, which he missed. Gueye went for the putback dunk, which also missed, bouncing out to Bamba at the 3-point line. He shot it and made the lead seven, but a Stanford three on the other end put the lead back at four.

It can never be easy.

With 5:20 left in the game, Ingram tied it up at 55-55. Finishing strong was the only way the Cougs could keep the winning season hopes alive.

A Powell three was followed by an Ingram three, and the tie was maintained. Bamba made a floater that was met with a Spencer Jones and-1 to give Stanford a 61-60 lead, their first since it was 26-25.

Jakimovski hit a three immediately after that to put the Cougs back up by 2, but Cardinal Brandon Angel dunked it in for yet another tie.

Both teams missed and kept the tie as the clock ticked below 1:30.

Powell came down with a tough rebound off an Ingram prayer and the Cougs had the ball with 50 seconds left. Bamba made a tough floater that set his career high against Pac-12 competition at 22. Gueye got a good stop on the other end and the Cougs had a 2-point lead and the ball with 24 seconds left and 20 on the shot clock.

Never, ever easy.

With 14 seconds left, DJ Rodman was intentionally fouled and got a one-and-one. He made both.

Stanford got to the other end with four seconds left and managed to take four shots, missing all of them and pulling down three offensive rebounds as a result.


The final score was 68-64. WSU won each half by 2 points to create that 4-point lead. Both teams made 24 total shots but the Cougs made four more threes than the Cardinal did.

Bamba led the game in scoring with 22 and made four threes on five attempts, great efficiency on a night where that was exactly what the Cougs needed. Gueye followed him with 15 points and 15 rebounds, adding yet another double-double to his resume. Gueye was also very efficient, shooting 6-for-8 and making his only 3-point attempt.

Angel led Stanford in scoring with 17 as the Cougs managed to shut down usual lead scorer Ingram. He still had 15 but he did it on a rough 37% shooting and 30% from three.

Earlier in the season it looked like this was a surefire losing season, but this four-game win streak has put the Cougs at .500 with two games left.

Appropriately, the final game of the season and the one that will likely determine if this is a winning or .500 season is against UW on their home hardwood.

The Cougs have beat UW once, but that was in Pullman. There is no more dramatic way for the season to end than a close game in Seattle against the team’s biggest rivals, so naturally, that is probably how it will go.

First though, Cal. Cal is a bad team, truly, and it would be a disaster if they are the ones to spoil the chances at a winning season.

That pivotal game to get above .500 is at 2 p.m. Saturday in Berkeley, California. Fans can watch on the Pac-12 Network.