Cougars edge Ducks to elude season sweep



Sophomore guard Malachi Flynn looks for a pass against Oregon on Thursday at Beasley Coliseum.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

After failing to close a victory against Stanford University on Saturday, WSU men’s basketball returned to its home court and did just that against the University of Oregon, defeating them 78-76.

In WSU’s previous matchup with Oregon in Eugene, the Cougars were missing their leading scorer in junior forward Robert Franks. Tonight they were firing on all cylinders and needed every bit of offensive firepower to top Oregon, which WSU head coach Ernie Kent referred to as the “hottest team in the conference.”

“I told you guys on several occasions after games that it is very important they learn how to win this year,” Kent said. “Learn how to defend this year, learn how to play tough this year, learn how to close out games this year. It will make them that much better next year.”

The Cougars have now won three of their last five conference games, due in large part to sophomore point guard Malachi Flynn, who had 28 points.

Kent said he believes the Cougars’ recent success is due to a change in mindset.

“About four weeks ago we put the whole focus on the Pac-12 tournament and took the focus off the season,” Kent said. “It gave them a chance to catch their breath and have a new vision —something to strive for. But along the way, let’s get better.”

Along with Flynn, Franks and junior guard Viont’e Daniels posted 19 and 13 points respectively to contribute to the Cougars’ win. The three have established themselves as the immediate go-to threats on the offensive end for the Cougars. Tonight, the trio accounted for over 75 percent of WSU’s total offense.

The Cougars will take on Oregon State 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Beasley Coliseum.