Cougars make history in Las Vegas

Elleby scores 30 points as WSU beats sixth seeded Buffaloes

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen men's basketball reporter

The 11th seed WSU men’s basketball team defeated the sixth seed University of Colorado 82-68 in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. This is the first time in Pac-12 Tournament history that a 11th seed team defeated a sixth seed team and the Cougars’ (16-16, 6-12) first Pac-12 Tournament win since 2009.

Sophomore forward CJ Elleby led the Cougars in scoring for the 19th time this season with 30 points, the most individual points allowed by Colorado (21-11, 10-8) this season. He added 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and six three pointers.

Junior guard Isaac Bonton extended his double-digit scoring streak to 18 straight games with 15 points against Colorado. He led WSU’s playmaking with six assists, the most assists he has recorded since Jan. 29.

Senior forward Jeff Pollard came off the bench against Colorado for the first time this season. He finished the game with six points shooting one hundred percent from the field.

WSU scored its first basket two and a half minutes into the game off a hook shot from junior forward Tony Miller in the paint. Elleby made three straight 3-pointers during WSU’s 12-8 run to start the first five minutes of the game.

Senior guard Jervae Robinson made a four-point play with 10:21 left in the first half to elevate the Cougars to a double-digit lead. WSU kept this double-digit lead for the remainder of the half.

After a putback layup from Elleby, Colorado called its second timeout of the night with 9:20 left in that half. At the time of stoppage, WSU was on a 15-2 run over the course of the previous three minutes.

Pollard made a hook shot in the paint with 5:03 left in the half, WSU did not score for the next four minutes. However, WSU held Colorado to four points during this drought.

WSU led Colorado 35-25 at the half with Elleby leading the way for the Cougars with 15 points and five rebounds. WSU grabbed 25 rebounds in the first half alone, one board shy of a new season high in first half rebounds.

Colorado junior guard McKinley Wright IV played 18 minutes in the first half without recording a single assist. Wright led the Pac-12 in assists per game in conference play coming into the Pac-12 Tournament.

WSU started the first two and a half minutes of the second half with a 3-point barrage from Elleby and Bonton. Elleby made two 3-pointers and Bonton made one of his own; Colorado called its third timeout of the game after Bonton’s three.

Freshman forward DJ Rodman made a four-point play of his own with 13:25 left in the game to push the Cougars to a 20-point lead.

Elleby made his fifth 3-pointer of the game with 12:41 left in the game, and the Cougars did not score for the next two and a half minutes. During the drought, the Buffaloes went on a 9-0 run up until a WSU timeout. Robinson scored 18 seconds after the team’s timeout.

Miller dunked on Colorado sophomore forward Evan Battey to give the Cougars a 22-point lead with 5:26 left on the clock, the largest lead of the game. WSU ruined Colorado’s attempt at a comeback after this play and cruised to victory.

The Cougars slayed the Buffaloes 82-68 and advanced to the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament for the first time in 11 years.

The third seed Arizona State University Sun Devils await the Cougars in the second round of the tournament. WSU lost to ASU four days ago during the Cougars’ Arizona road trip, and ASU has not played a game since this victory over WSU.

WSU will face the Arizona State University Sun Devils in the next round at 8:30 p.m. Thursday. The game will air on FS1.