Men muster up Pac-12 win

Evan Baron Evergreen Men's Basketball reporter

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The word, “Finally,” is what WSU men’s basketball Head Coach Ken Bone and his players can say after a three point win over Utah on Sunday.

           The 49-46 win by the Cougars (8-8, 1-3) results in the team’s first Pac-12 win of the season.

         “It was our only home game in the last four (games) and now we go on the road for two more (games), so when you only have one game in Beasley (Coliseum), your home court at your first six (Pac-12 games), you better win it, “Bone said. “Because it doesn’t get any easier.”

            The Cougars lead by one point against the Utes (12-4, 1-3) with under ten seconds remaining in the game. Utah guard Brandon Taylor dribbled the ball towards the hoop hoping to get a foul call that would send him to the line for two points.

            However the Utah guard got the opposite call from the referee after traveling with the ball.

            The next possession the Utes fouled WSU guard Que Johnson who stepped to the free throw line and hit two free throws to extend the WSU lead to three with under five seconds remaining in the game.

            The Utes had one last shot at sending the game to overtime, however Bone instructed his players to foul instead of giving Utah a chance to send the game into overtime. Bone’s plan worked and the Cougars came out victorious.

            “It didn’t matter how much time, we were going to foul once they crossed the crossed mid-court because one more bounce, now they could be in a shooting motion,” Bone said. “We did not want to foul at that point.”

            The Cougars struggled early in the game on the offensive side by only making four shots with less than five minutes left in the first half. The slow start by the Cougars allowed Utah to lead by as many as nine points during the first half.

            At that point the Cougars needed something to spark the offense, and the answer was Johnson, who helped bring the Cougars within four points of the Utes to finish the first half.

Johnson and his teammates became more aggressive in the second half which resulted in more free throw opportunities.

            “I think we definitely started getting to the line, which they (Utah) were doing in the first and second half,” WSU forward Junior Longrus said. “So once we kind of saw how the game was being called we were able to adjust and put some more points on the board.”

The aggressive attack to the free throw line helped the Cougars come back and take the lead with ten minutes remaining in the game.

Johnson and Dexter Kernich-Drew were the only players who scored in double figures for the Cougars on Sunday.

            It was the second straight double-digit scoring game for Kernich-Drew.

“I wouldn’t say I am a legit scorer, but I guess when I’m open I’m taking my shots and making sure they’re good shots, and just trying to stick with the team plan,” Kernich-Drew said.

For Johnson, his performance against Utah gives him his seventh game of the season scoring in double figures.

“I thought Que did a good job, every night your shot is not going to fall, but a good player, good scorer will manufacture points in a variety of ways and I thought that’s what he did really well tonight,” Bone said. “I think he’ll continue to get a little more aggressive, game in and game out because we’re talking to him about that every day. It’s just not his personality.”

The Cougars will travel to Stanford on Wednesday and look to win their second Pac-12 game of the season.