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 deny Portland State, get sixth win

“We just don’t like seeing other teams make baskets”
Rueben+Chinyelu+rises+for+the+opening+tip+against+Portland+State%2C+Dec.+2%2C+in+Pullman%2C+Wash.
BRANDON WILLMAN
Rueben Chinyelu rises for the opening tip against Portland State, Dec. 2, in Pullman, Wash.

WSU men’s basketball (6-1) beat Portland State (6-2) by a score of 71-61 on Saturday.

A matinee game won by double-digits might look relaxing on the surface, but this game was not nearly as easy for the Cougs as the final score suggests. 

Kymany Houinsou got the start at point guard, his first start of the season. He was in for an injured Joseph Yesufu, who missed the game along with Dylan Darling.

The first 10 minutes of the game were close and scrappy. The Vikings had the lead multiple times, and didn’t let the Cougs pull ahead by much. 

As the clock neared 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Cougs started to pull ahead. Houinsou and Myles Rice each provided four points in first 12 minutes, and Isaac Jones was leading the way with 11. 

Despite that,  the lead was still only six points as the clock neared the same number. The lead got as high as seven, but Portland State responded and when the halftime buzzer sounded the game was tied 31-31.

Still on top was Isaac Jones with 13 points in sixteen minutes. He had also grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots, leading a Cougar defense that held the Vikings to just 33.3% from the field and 21.4% from 3-point range.

No other Cougs had big stats in the first period. Rice was second in scoring with six points and was leading the team in minutes with 17. Houinsou was still at four points while Andre Jakimovski had just one made shot, a 3-pointer. 

Neither team shot particularly well in the first half. The Cougs made 52% of their shots but only 20% of their 3-pointers, while the Vikings made 33% of their shots and 21% of their 3-pointers.

As the second half started, it became clear this was not going to be one where the Cougs can just re-calibrate and pull way ahead in the second half. It was going to be a battle.

With 12:30 left, the Vikings took a four-point lead. On the next play, Myles Rice got an offensive rebound and took it straight to the rim for the basket and the foul. The basket put him in double digits, and the free throw brought the Cougs within one. 

Rueben Chinyelu and Jaylen Wells got the stop in the paint on the other end, and Rice got another layup in transition to take the lead. Another stop led to a 3-pointer by Jones and the Cougar lead was four.

BRANDON WILLMAN

The Cougs managed to hold that lead for a while and with five minutes remaining, it was still a four point difference. Two minutes later and that lead was at five, a minute after that it was at six.

The Vikings kept on trying to mount their comeback, but the Cougs were not letting them. More specifically, Oscar Cluff was not letting them. He had two layups in a row to bring WSU to 67 and 69 points, and with under a minute left the Cougar lead was 10.

The final score was 71-61. Double-digit lead or not, it was a tough fought win. 

After a total absence last time out, the blocks were back and better than ever. The Cougs had ten blocks in this game, reaching double-digits for the first time in the past two seasons and putting them on top of the Pac-12 and in the top ten nationally in blocks per game.

“We just don’t like seeing other teams make baskets,” said Jones, who contributed 3 of the teams blocks.

Houinsou had three of his own, while Cluff and Chinyelu each had two. While the Vikings took 13 more shots than the Cougs, they missed 20 more.

Leading the Cougs in scoring was Jones with 27. He also had 11 rebounds. Rice was second with 19, having scored 13 in the second half. The Vikings must have seen last game’s tape because they had him blanketed every time he stood on the perimeter. Not to be stopped that easy, Rice took the it as an opportunity to drive to the rim and draw fouls for his points.

BRANDON WILLMAN

The only other Cougar to make more than one shot was Houinsou, who had 10 points and five rebounds. While his lack of shooting was a spacing issue, his size at the point guard position made up for that in other ways.

The Cougs showed resilience in this game, making a small comeback midway through the second half and following it by standing strong against the Viking comeback. A year ago, missing this many threes would have been a death sentence. This year, things are different.

“We don’t need to hit nine or 10 threes,” Kyle Smith said. “We were definitely dependent on that in the past and now we have more of a front court presence.”

Next up for the Cougs and that dominant front court is UC Riverside. Despite their 3-5 record, the Highlanders just lost to UCLA by only one point. That game will tip-off at 7 p.m. Wednesday and 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.
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.