Late three-pointer sinks WSU

Cougars fought back to tie game late with Franks on bench for most of second half



Junior forward Jeff Pollard attempts to score in the second half against California State University Northridge on Nov. 27 at Beasley Coliseum.

COLIN CONNOLLY, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball lost its second straight close game at the Las Vegas Classic on Sunday against New Mexico State University 75-72.

The Cougars (7-5) came out of the gate slow, putting them behind by a big deficit early. Scoring did not come easy for WSU as they committed a handful of turnovers and missed a number of shots.

This combination allowed the Aggies (10-3) to get some easy shots in transition and build momentum. WSU trailed by as much as 16 points in the first half due in large-part to Aggies redshirt senior guard JoJo Zamora, who scored 21 points in the first half alone.

Senior forward Robert Franks struggled for WSU, shooting just 2-9 and only scoring seven points in the game.

A late run at the end of the half closed the gap to 10 and gave the Cougars a chance to get their first win away from Beasley Coliseum this season.

WSU used what they had seen at the end of the first 20 minutes to start the second half much quicker and cut the New Mexico State lead to just five.

Junior guard Carter Skaggs and freshman forward CJ Elleby led the Cougars by knocking down some big three-point shots to bring WSU within striking distance.

Three-pointers were the story of the night for the Cougars, who shot 10-23 from deep. Every time the Aggies made a run in the second half and WSU seemed out of the game, the Cougars fought back with a key three-pointer.

The first lead of the game for the Cougs came with just under nine minutes left in the second half after an electric dunk by Elleby.

WSU held Zamora quiet for most of the second half, but with the game tied at 72 he made a three-pointer with just over two seconds left to end the Cougars’ hope of a comeback.

Zamora finished the night with 28 points and seven assists on 9-11 shooting. He also knocked down six three-pointers.

Elleby led the Cougars with 20 points on 6-11 shooting from the field. Skaggs came off the bench and scored 14 points with four three-pointers.

Franks only saw the court for six minutes in the second half and the Cougars played without him for a nearly seven-minute stretch.

WSU will look to get its first win away from home before conference play begins 11 a.m. Saturday against Santa Clara University at Spokane Arena. The game can also be seen live on Pac-12 Networks.