Stagnant second half ends Cougars’ season in Las Vegas

From staff reports

In a game that summarized how the season played out, staying competitive with higher-ranked teams but ultimately falling short, WSU’s campaign came to an end at the hands of Colorado on Wednesday night.

After leading 41-27 at halftime, the Cougars (13-18,6-12) scored 22 points in the second half on their way to a 73-63 loss to the Buffaloes (19-13, 8-10).

Senior guard Charles Callison started the game by hitting his first four shots, including two 3-pointers that rattled off a 9-0 run to give the team a 9-3 lead early on. However, the Cougars’ hot shooting was negated by turnovers, preventing their ability to build a big lead.

Led by seniors Conor Clifford and Josh Hawkinson, the Cougars frustrated the Buffaloes inside during the first half, generating the majority of their points in the paint. Clifford played strong defensively, taking two charges and protecting the rim during a long 18-3 run to up the Cougars’ lead to 27-10 midway through the first half.

Senior guard Ike Iroegbu hit two 3-pointers during this run that factored into Colorado’s attempt at running their full-court press.

Even with the big lead throughout the first half, WSU Head Coach Ernie Kent continued to find teaching moments for his players, giving tips and pointers at almost every dead ball.

Colorado entered the bonus late in the half, adding to their nine points scored on 13 attempts from the foul line, their only consistent source of offense. The Cougars controlled the offensive output of Colorado’s leading scorer, senior guard Derrick White, and limited the Buffaloes to 32 percent shooting from the field and just 18 percent from deep.

WSU played its up-tempo offense to success, leading for 19 of 20 minutes in the first half and taking a 14-point lead into the break.

Reported by Kaleb Semler