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 rank up, win award despite ending streak in Phoenix

WSU suffered loss in first bad game since January
Rueben Chinyelu thanking the crowd after showing out for the Cougs win over Cal, Feb. 15, in Pullman, Wash.

No. 19 WSU men’s basketball (21-7, 12-5 Pac-12) fell to Arizona State (14-14, 8-9 Pac-12), falling for a trap game after the emotional win earlier in the week. Despite the loss, the Cougs moved from No. 21 to No. 19 in the AP Poll.

Letdowns are common following huge wins like the one the Cougs grabbed over then-No. 4 Arizona, but this was an especially hard one. The final score was 73-61, with the Cougs being blown out after being down most of the game.

Arizona State was coming off a heartbreaking loss to Washington on Thursday in which they went down big early but outscored the Huskies by 21 in the second half to force overtime. This time out, they looked more like that second half than they did in overtime, making a huge percentage of their shots and holding the Cougar offense down.

The biggest problem for the Cougs was shooting. The team made only three 3-pointers on 18 attempts, good for a frigid 16.7%. Their field goal percentage was better, at 39.3%, but still not anywhere near good enough. The one offensive bright spot was free throw shooting, where the Cougs made 10-of-12.

On the other end of the floor, Arizona State had a fantastic game. They made 49.3% of their field goals, nearly 8% higher than their average. They shot 42.9% from 3-point range, 11% higher than their average. If they always shot that well from outside they would rank first in the country in percentage.

Most other statistics were even or close to it. Both teams had 35 rebounds, while the Sun Devils had 13 assists to the Cougs 11. The Cougs had 11 turnovers, one more than Arizona State, and both teams had 13 fouls. The Cougs had one more block while the Sun Devils had one more steal.

The difference truly was just efficiency. Jaylen Wells, who had 27 and the game-winner last game, was ice-cold in this one. He made just 25% of his shots, missing six threes on eight tries and missing nine shots overall. He was the only Cougar starter to make any 3-pointers at all, with Isaiah Watts making the only other one off the bench on four attempts.

Andrej Jakimovski and Myles Rice combined to miss six 3-pointers and made none. Rice still managed 13 points, but shot below his average on-field goals and earned himself only one free throw. Jakivmoski made only one shot, finishing the game with 2 points.

Isaac Jones was the star of the show for the Cougs if there must be one. After a slow first half, he came out strong in the second. He led a quick run at the start of the period which briefly gave the Cougs the lead.

Jones finished the game with 16 points and a game-leading 11 rebounds, getting a double-double despite the loss. He had a good game from the line, making 80% of his free throws, but he drew only three fouls. Jones finished the game 6-of-11 from the field.

The Sun Devils had four players in double-figures, led by senior guard Jose Perez with 16 on eight free throw attempts. Their balanced attack saw big contributions off the bench, with forwards Bryant Selebangue and Alonzo Gaffney each shooting better than 62% from the field.

Despite the loss, the Cougs managed to move up in the AP Poll due to the win over Arizona. They ended a 16-year absence from the list last week when they reached No. 21. Now, they sit at No. 19.

Reuben Chinyelu, who had a double-double against Arizona, was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week Monday morning. He is the second Coug to get the award this season, breaking Rice’s four-week streak. 

Chinyelu and Rice have combined to earn the Cougs eight FOTW awards this season, passing last year’s UCLA team for the most ever by a single team in a single season. It is also only the second time in WSU history that the team has had three different players named to weekly conference awards in the same season.

The Cougs have only three games left to climb up the rankings, all at home where they are 13-1. Their first chance to bounce back will come against a team they already beat once this season, USC. That game will tip-off 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Fans can watch on 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 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.