The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Cougs win three of four over the break

Myles Rice continues hot start
Myles+Rice+guides+the+WSU+offense+during+an+inbounds+play+for+a+NCAA+Mens+Basketball+game%2C+Nov.+27%2C+in+Pullman%2C+Wash.+
BRANDON WILLMAN
Myles Rice guides the WSU offense during an inbounds play for a NCAA Men’s Basketball game, Nov. 27, in Pullman, Wash.

WSU men’s basketball (5-1) played four games over the break, losing just one of the four.

The Cougs started with a trip out to the Hall of Fame in Connecticut, where they participated in the Tip-Off tournament. Matched up with them at the start of the bracket was Mississippi State (6-0).

The Bulldogs won by a score of 76-64. The Cougs made it close a few times, but never managed to fully take control. Mississippi State outrebounded WSU by 12 and out-stole them by six.

Despite the loss, there was a bright spot for the Cougs. Myles Rice went for a career-high 21 points, breaking the 20 point mark for the first time in his young career.

Mississippi State is still undefeated, and is now ranked at the No. 21 team in the country, making them by far the strongest out-of-conference opponent the Cougs have faced so far and will face for the rest of the season.

Following the loss, the Cougs were written into the consolation game against Rhode Island (6-2), the loser of the other half of the bracket.

BRANDON WILLMAN
Isaac Jones looks to pass out of a double team late in the second half of the Cougs 82-72 win over EWU, Nov. 27, in Pullman, Wash.

This time out the Cougars had their way, winning by a score of 78-57. Isaac Jones led the Cougs with 21 points, and he also led the game with five assists. Operating as the offensive engine, he hit eight of his eleven shots for 72.7% shooting.

The consolation game was also where the Cougs showed off their size and defensive prowess, tallying seven blocks and snagging nine steals in the rout.

Following the losers-bracket blowout, WSU came home to Beasley where they will remain until Pac-12 play begins. In fact, The Cougs this season have no out-of-conference away games scheduled at all, with the only games not played in Beasley taking place in Spokane or at the tournament in Connecticut.

Visiting the Palouse was Utah Tech (3-3), a team that reclassified to Division I only a few years ago. The Cougs came a bit slow, but ended up winning by 40 points with the final score being 93-53.

This was a perfect matchup for the Cougs to show off the amount of talent they added this off-season, especially on offense. WSU made 65% of their three-point shots, 56% of their shots overall and they outrebounded the Trailblazers by 10.

Once again, the Cougs filled the blocks column with eight and managed 10 steals. Andrej Jakimovski starred, scoring 20 with five makes from outside as well as having two of those eight blocks.

BRANDON WILLMAN
Andrej Jakimovski fights through a double-team as he looks to make a pass, Nov. 27, in Pullman, Wash.

Rueben Chinyelu continued to feast in his limited minutes, playing only 16 minutes despite getting the start. He had eight points as well as 10 rebounds and three blocks. The freshman made himself known, dominating inside whenever he subbed in.

Following the blowout was perhaps the most important game so far, at least in terms of narrative.

Eastern Washington (1-5) won the last two matchups in Beasley, with a neutral-site Cougar victory sandwiched between them. Most recently, the Eagles ended the Cougs season last year in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament, beating a team missing Mouhamed Gueye by a score of 81-74.

The team Eastern Washington beat last year is not this team, which was obvious when the final buzzer sounded and the Cougs led by ten points.

COLE QUINN
The WSU men’s basketball team prepares for player introductions before an NCAA men’s basketball game against Eastern Washington, Nov. 27, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

The final score was 82-72. Rice was cooking again, scoring another career-high with 28. He started the game by taking four threes and making all of them, each more ill-advised and as such more incredible than the last.

BRANDON WILLMAN
WSU guard Myles Rice rises for a three-pointer as an EWU defender closes in, Nov. 27, in Pullman, Wash.

He finished with six makes from outside, missing only two attempts as he brought life to a Cougar offense that struggled at times.

Chinyelu came off the bench in another low-minutes/high-impact game, scoring 11 points in as many minutes along with four offensive rebounds. 

Three other Cougs scored in double-digits.

Isaac Jones had a quiet 10 points, drawing seven fouls while not fouling once and grabbing seven rebounds.

COLE QUINN
WSU forward Isaac Jones jumps for a layup during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Eastern Washington, Nov. 27, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

Andrej Jakimovski had a tough game, making only three shots on 12 attempts and missing seven of his nine three-point shots. Despite that, he finished with 10 points, including a tough and-one that got the fans and the team fired up when the game was getting close.

Oscar Cluff had 12 points on good efficiency, and he added seven rebounds as well. His size and strength allowed the Cougs to challenge the Eagle zone defense.

The Cougs won the rebound and turnover battles by nine each which allowed them to take 19 more shots than their opponent. While they did not have the best game shooting, that kind of disparity is almost always a winning formula.

“It’s just one of those gritty games, you know?” Rice said. “You can look at the stat sheet, you can look at the numbers, but it just comes down to playing at the end of the day.”

The Cougs play next against Portland State at 2 p.m. Saturday in Beasley Coliseum. It will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.

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About the Contributors
HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor
Hayden Stinchfield is a senior in Criminology from Washougal, WA. He is considered by some experts to be the greatest to ever spot birds. Hayden began working at the Evergreen in fall 2022, and became Sports Co-Editor in summer 2023.
COLE QUINN, Evergreen Sports Photographer
Cole Quinn is a photographer and columnist for the Daily Evergreen. Cole primarily shoots sports for the Daily Evergreen and writes album reviews in his spare time. Cole is a junior broadcast production major and sports communication minor from Snoqualmie, Washington. Cole started working for the Evergreen in the fall of 2020 as a photographer. Cole was the Photo Editor during his sophomore year and Deputy Photo Editor for the fall 2022 semester.
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2023 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.