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

Cougars to close out-of-conference play in December

Two at home and two at neutral sites
Isaac+Jones+fights+through+contact+in+the+lane%2C+finishing+the+night+with+27+points%2C+Dec.+2%2C+in+Pullman%2C+Wash.
BRANDON WILLMAN
Isaac Jones fights through contact in the lane, finishing the night with 27 points, Dec. 2, in Pullman, Wash.

The undefeated-at-home WSU Cougars (6–1) are more than halfway through their out-of-conference schedule now, and with winter break approaching fast it is time to look at who they will be playing during the holiday season.

Before that, though, Myles Rice deserves to be shouted out. Rice was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week on Monday. Averaging 17.3 points per game, Rice leads all freshmen in scoring and is fifth in the Pac-12. He has scored 20 or more points twice now.

Rice is the first Cougar recipient of this award since Mouhamed Gueye in his freshman season two years ago.

First up over this stretch for the Cougs is a game against UC Riverside (4-5) at home that will be played after this article is written but before publication. The Highlanders are sitting below a .500 record and have already lost to two Pac-12 opponents. Beasley has been hard on opposing teams this year, and all of UC Riverside’s losses have been in away games.

Update: the Cougs beat UCR 86-49.

Following that game, the Cougs will face Grambling State (2-6), also in Pullman. Grambling State is the second historically black college or university (HBCU) opponent of the year for the Cougs after they already faced Prarie View A&M. The Tigers play in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, making them also the second SWAC opponent of the year for the Cougs after Prairie View.

The Cougs have played the Tigers three times before. The Cougs have never lost, and have an average margin of victory of 35 points. The Tigers currently sit at 2-6 with those wins coming over a school with less than 4,000 students and a school with 150 total students.

Needless to say, a Cougar loss here would be the worst of the season. This is the time for the Cougs to step up and prove they can be consistent and beat the teams they are meant to beat. They have already done that better than last season, now it is time to keep that ball rolling and get to conference play without slowing down.

The game against Grambling State will be at 5 p.m. Sunday in Beasley Coliseum. Fans can watch on the Pac-12 Network.

Following that game, the Cougs head out on another short road trip, not to return home until conference play begins.

First up on the trip is the Jerry Colangelo Classic in Phoenix, where the Cougs will face Santa Clara (7-2). The Cougs have won five of eight games against Santa Clara all-time, but have taken only one of the last three.

Santa Clara has wins over both Oregon and Stanford but also lost to Cal. They beat Utah Tech, but only by eight, while the Cougs beat Utah Tech by 40. They are a hard team to get a good read on, but they are almost certainly the Cougs’ strongest opponent before conference play.

The game against Santa will be at 11 a.m. Dec.16 in Phoenix. Fans can watch on the Pac-12 Network.

The final game before Pac-12 play is close to home, but it is not a home game. The Cougs are headed up to Spokane to play a third-straight neutral site game against the Boise State Broncos (5-3).

The Cougs are on a two-game losing streak to the Broncos, tying up the all-time series at 3-3. Winning this game would be huge for the Cougs momentum going into conference play. The Broncos do not have the resume of Santa Clara so far this year, but they were a tournament team last year and returned much of their roster,

The game against Boise State will be at 8 p.m. Dec. 21 in Spokane Arena. Fans can watch on the Pac-12 Network.

The out-of-conference schedule has been great for the Cougs so far, but some of the truest tests are ahead of them. A few more great performances and WSU might just find itself at the top of the Pac-12 heading into conference play. They have created the momentum they need, now all they have to do is keep it up.

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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.