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

WSU MBB ‘obsessed with winning now’

MBB avenges loss; defends Beasley
Rueben+Chinyelu+thanking+the+crowd+after+showing+out+for+the+Cougs+win+over+Cal%2C+Feb.+15%2C+in+Pullman%2C+Wash.
BRANDON WILLMAN
Rueben Chinyelu thanking the crowd after showing out for the Cougs win over Cal, Feb. 15, in Pullman, Wash.

What does domination look like? What does getting your revenge look like? 

Domination is having two questionable calls late in the game not mean a thing because you’re up 20 with under two minutes left. Domination is out-shooting your opponent from the field and beyond the arc, out-rebounding them by double-digits and out-stocking them. Finally, getting your revenge is beating the team that was the last to beat you.

Isaac Jones and Myles Rice combined their powers to dominate Cal, leading the team to an 84-65 win in Beasley to improve the team record to 19-6 and got their 10th Pac-12 win. Jones scored 21 and grabbed nine rebounds while drawing seven fouls, forcing the issue in the paint and generating offense for himself through contact. 

“I think I just wanted it more than them,” Jones said. “I competed harder than they did.” 

Rice continued his personal dominance, scoring 25, grabbing five rebounds, dishing out two assists and taking a steal. Despite the first 10 WSU points taking a full 7:00 to come by, the team quickly turned things around and scored 48 points in the second half alone. 

It did not look perfect. It started off rather sloppy. Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net and get points on the board. It took 1:49 of game time for the first points to be scored. WSU took 2:42 to get their first points, it was tied 10-10 with 11:28 remaining in the first half. 

“It all just goes back to us believing in ourselves. Make or miss, it doesn’t really matter. We know that we can go out there and do really well on offense,” Rice said.

Even with a convincing 19-point victory, WSU looked beatable. They had seven turnovers and only shot four free throws in the first half. They only managed two offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes and they did have a 12-point halftime lead, they benefited from Cal missing several open-to-barely contested shots, part of the reason they shot 32.1% in the first half.  

After the win, two teams in the Pac-12 have double-digit conference wins. One of those two is WSU, the other is a team WSU beat. The Cougs ranked No. 10 in the preseason poll, now, it would be a shock to see them fall out of the top third of the rankings with four games remaining at home.

Playing at Beasley has been a security blanket this season and then some. With just one loss in Pullman in 2023–24, coach Kyle Smith continues to have his team play their best ball in front of the home fans. 

Overall, the 19-6 record is by far the best record the team has had at this point in the season since the ‘08 NCAA Tournament team, a team that this current squad compares nicely to.

Smith, however, keeps a level head in hopes that it rubs off on his players. He understands the weight that an NCAA Tournament appearance would hold, he understands that the Coug faithful are hungry for it. Still, it is not the end-all, be-all of his coaching. 

“It would mean a lot. But, it’s not going to define me,” Smith said. 

Beating Cal, a team occupying the 10-seed, the same 10-seed that the Cougs held in the preseason Pac-12 standings does not do much to improve the resume of the Cougs beyond an extra tick in the win column. It’s to a point where the Cougs are finding themselves in “trap” games. They do not benefit from a win, but losing at home could be detrimental. 

“A lot of people, they don’t want to see Wazzu win, that’s how I feel,” Rice said. 

Good teams rise above narratives. That’s what has happened so far in the last couple of weeks for WSU and it is something that has fueled a new drive in the players. 

“We’re obsessed with winning now,” Jones said.

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About the Contributor
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 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.