Elleby leads WSU to victory



Then-freshman forward CJ Elleby jumps over the Buffaloes defense as he shoots during the basketball game on Feb. 20, 2018 at Beasley Coliseum.

The Cougars returned home on Wednesday after a pair of road losses and defeated the Arizona State University Sun Devils 67-65. Sophomore CJ Elleby made the game-winning shot with four seconds left to lift the Cougars to victory.

This win for WSU matches its Pac-12 conference win total from last season’s 4-11 record. Smith said this accomplishment helps with every hurdle the team faces.

“There’s no easy ones in this schedule,” Smith said. “Hopefully, we’ll grow from this.”

Elleby led the Cougars in scoring once again with 27 points, tying his career high for the fourth time this season. He added 12 rebounds to record his third double-double of the season. Junior guard Isaac Bonton continued his streak of double-digit point totals with 12 points against ASU.

Arizona State junior guard Remy Martin came into this game as the leading Pac-12 scorer. He has scored 20-plus points in his last seven games, which ties WSU alumnus Klay Thompson’s streak. WSU ended Martin’s streak as he scored 12 points on four of 15 shooting, his lowest point total in Pac-12 play.

Bonton said Martin’s struggles should be credited to senior guard Jervae Robinson, Martin’s matchup in the game.

“He’s does a great job every night against typically the best player on [the opposing] team,” Bonton said.

WSU’s offense was stagnant at first when the team played for five minutes, shooting below 30 percent from the field. Bonton scored the first basket for WSU after almost three minutes with no points. He went scoreless for the remainder of the half.

Elleby scored seven of the first 11 points for WSU, and senior guard Jervae Robinson made a 3-pointer off the backboard in transition to take the 15-13 lead.

Freshman center Volodymyr Markovetskyy checked into the game with 11:53 left on the clock and made a dunk less than 20 seconds into his shift. This is the first time Markovetskyy has scored since playing eight minutes against Stanford earlier this season. He finished the game with a career high of 10 minutes played.

With 2:46 left on the clock, freshman guard Noah Williams slammed a one-handed dunk in transition. This extended the Cougar lead to 32-23 and brought the Beasley crowd to its feet. WSU led ASU 37-30 at halftime, and Elleby led the Cougars offensively with 16 points.

WSU started the second half with an 11-2 run, which included three 3-pointers from Williams, Bonton and Elleby.

“That was half Kobe, half Mike. I yelled ‘Mamba out!’ for CJ.”

Head coach Kyle Smith

With 10:57 left on the clock, Elleby received a flagrant one foul after an off-ball scuffle with an Arizona State player. ASU tied the game at 51 shortly afterwards, which WSU followed with an 11-2 run to regain the lead.

The game was tied at 62 with 1:47 left, and ASU took the lead with 1:14 left on the clock. WSU took a timeout with 48 seconds left on the clock, as play resumed Elleby made a fadeaway mid-range basket to tie the game.

A hectic series of events came from ASU’s offense in the following possession. A Sun Devils’ dunk attempt was fouled by Williams, which allowed ASU to make its first free throw and miss the second.

ASU led 65-64 with 18 seconds left on the clock. With no timeouts remaining the Cougars marched up the court, and Elleby made the game-winning 3-pointer with four seconds left from an assist from Bonton.

Elleby said his team did a good job of overcoming the other team’s comeback attempt.

“My credit to [Bonton] for getting me the ball and the ball went it,” Elleby said.

However, Bonton reverted the praise back to Elleby’s game-winning shot.

“He’s clutch,” Bonton said. “He’s got ice in his veins.”

Following the recent passing of Kobe Bryant on Sunday, Smith said he used a speech from Kobe about leadership earlier this week to motivate the team. He said that Kobe’s and even Michael Jordan’s presence was with Elleby as he was battling a flu during the game.

“That was half Kobe, half Mike,” Smith said. “I yelled ‘Mamba out!’ for CJ.”

The Cougars will face the University of Arizona Wildcats at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Beasley Coliseum. The game will air on the Pac-12 Networks.