NCAA Basketball

Cougars remain unbeaten with 93-86 victory over SDSU

Photo Credit: Matt York/Associated Press – The Columbian

Carter Skaggs would hit a pair of free throws to seal the Washington State Cougars (6-0) upset victory over the San Diego State Aztecs (5-2) in the Wooden Legacy Championship game.

Robert Franks would get fouled on the inbounds pass following Mitchell’s free throws, he’d hit both free throws — making him 8-8 on the night from the line — to extend the Cougs lead to five with 20 seconds left in the game. The Aztecs would quickly chuck up a three that bounced off of the rim and out of bounds off of Jeff Pollard. Fortunately for Washington State, the Aztecs wouldn’t do anything with the ball and they’d be forced to foul Skaggs.

Nolan Narian would hit a jumper and earn the and one, which he missed, to cut the Cougars lead to five. Drick Bernstein would get called for a foul on the rebound which would send Matt Mitchell to the charity stripe for the double bonus; Mitchell would hit both free throws to give WSU a 89-86 lead with 20 seconds left in the game.

Sophomore forward Jeff Pollard would hit a crucial layup despite being double teamed to give Washington State a 87-82 lead with less than a minute left in the game. The Aztecs would foul Daniels (83% free throw shooter) after 15 seconds had run off the clock; the junior would hit both free throws to extend the Cougars lead to seven points.

Washington State’s offense would go on a 7-0 run to give it a 85-79 lead after a Robert Franks three pointer from the corner; the 13th three pointer for the Cougars of the game. Daniel Watson would cut into WSU’s lead when he hit a jumper but the Aztecs were unable to capitalize on another turnover by the Cougars thanks to an offensive foul.

Malachi Flynn hit a pair of free throws to give the Cougars an 80-79 lead, those free throws were his 23rd and 24th points on the night. Milan Acquaah would earn his fourth foul of the night with a hard foul against the injured Kell; he’d follow that foul up with his first points of the night on a layup despite being blocked by two Aztec defenders. Right after his bucket, he’d foul out on a ticky tacky reach in foul along the baseline. Fortunately for the Cougars, Watson would miss his free throws on the other end of the floor.

Jeremy Hemsley would nail a mid-range shot to regain the lead for San Diego State at 79-78 with less than four minutes left. A frantic pair of possessions would lead to the final media timeout without any points for either squad. This is when Kell would reenter the game.

From the corner, Daniels would hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 75 a piece and to cap off an 8-0 run by Washington State. Watson, by now SDSU’s only offensive threat on the floor, would hit a couple of free throws to regain the lead for the Aztecs; but that lead was short lived as Jeff Pollard would hit a lay-up and drain the “and one” to give the Cougars their first lead in 12 and half minutes.

Daniels would drain a three, but Watson would follow that up with a mid-range jumper to get SDSU’s lead back up to eight points. It was at this point that Flynn would start to take over the game when he’d drain a three to make it a 75-70 game with 7:03 left in regulation.

Trey Kell went down with an ankle injury, he left the game with 19 points to his name.

Washington State would go ice cold from the floor and beyond the arc, while still turning the ball over, in the middle of the second half. At the same time, San Diego State’s ball movement was opening up shots in the middle of the Cougs 1-3-1 defense as the Aztecs built their lead to 67-59. Flynn would drain a three pointer to get WSU within five points…but Watson would respond with his own three to make it 70-62 San Diego State; at this point Franks came back into the game.

The sophomore forward from Bountiful, Utah would put an end to Washington State’s four minute scoring drought when he’d hit a layup after a missed three pointer to cut the Aztec’s lead down to three. Unfortunately the Aztecs’ offense couldn’t be slowed down on the other end as Narain would hit a jumper from near the free throw line to give them a 65-58 lead at the eleven minute mark in regulation.

Pollard would end the Aztec’s mini-run by hitting a jumper despite getting foul than draining the free throw to cut SDSU’s lead to one. The Aztecs would respond when Watson hit an easy layup after another turnover by Washington State. It was a series of sloppy possessions by Kent’s squad that led to San Diego State’s 10-3 run that gave it a 63-56 lead midway through the second half.

WSU would lose junior Robert Franks for several minutes when he went down with an apparent ankle injury after landing on Mitchell’s foot following an attempted block.

While San Diego State would retake the lead and build it up to 53-51, but Franks would hit a pair of free throws to knot it back up at 53. Watson would respond to that by nailing a layup despite a charging foul against Daniels (his third of the game) to give SDSU a 55-53 lead. Kell would extend the Aztecs lead with a coast-to-coast steal then dunk.

At the start of the second half, San Diego State would take back the lead for the ninth lead swap of the game with a layup by Rooks off of a rebound. But the Cougars would respond when Flynn hit a mid-range jumper to give WSU the lead back at 50-49.

Flynn would hit a deep three to give the Cougs a 46-43 lead with 20 seconds left, it was the final score of the first half as the Cougs would head to the locker room with the lead. The Cougars halftime lead was built behind hot shooting from behind the arc (8-16) and from the floor (15-30). In fact, the only reason SDSU was only trailing by three was because it had less turnovers than Washington State.

The last two minutes of the first half were chaotic as both teams finally found their groove shooting wise; there were five lead changes in those final two minutes. WSU and San Diego State would swap the lead thanks to a pair of three pointers by Watson and Flynn to give the Cougars a 43-42 lead with 43.3 seconds left in the half.

Pollard would cut the Aztecs lead down to three with a easy layup after a beautiful bounce pass from Acquaah. The Cougars had quickly pressed the ball down court after McDaniel gave SDSU a 34-29 lead with a mid-range jumper. Neither defense was able to get set on both Pollard and McDaniel’s jumpers because of how quickly the offense’s got into position.

San Diego State would just begin to feed Kell from beyond the arc as he’d drain his third straight three point shot to give SDSU a 30-26 lead. But Flynn would respond with his own three to cut the Aztecs lead down to one.

Franks would end the Cougs three-plus minute scoring drought with a three pointer that tied the game at 24 a peice. The Aztecs would miss a field goal on their ensuing possession, which wouldn’t matter as the Cougs would give up the rock on a traveling call. Kell would make Washington State pay for its offensive inconsistency with a three pointer to give San Diego State a 27-24 lead.

Kell would end the Aztecs three pointer drought with when he hit nothing but net from the top of the key with 8:18 seconds left in the first half to give San Diego State a 24-21 lead. Kent would call a timeout after the bucket to try and gather his squad after a couple of inefficient offensive possessions that included a pair of ill timed turnovers.

Chidom would give WSU back the lead with a three pointer from the top of the key to give his squad a 19-16 lead before the second media timeout of the first half. The freshmen forward took advantage of the fact that SDSU’s defense hadn’t gotten back on its side of the court after a missed three pointer. Missed three pointers were a common issue for San Diego State’s offense during the first 10 minutes of the game as the offense went 0-8 from behind the arc.

The Aztecs would go on a run a 13-4 run to tie the game at 11 that was capped off by an emphatic slam by Narian after he corralled a missed free throw by Mitchell. SDSU’s aggressive defense forced a couple of turnovers, along with a pair of travels, to keep the Cougars off of the board for just under three minutes. Fortunately for Washington State Skaggs would break the scoreless drought with a three-pointer from in front of the Aztecs bench.

San Diego State started out the game with a couple of turnovers that helped fuel an early 7-2 run by the Cougars to start out the game. WSU’s first points of the game came when forward Robert Franks hit a wide open three pointer thanks to an excellent screen. It was a well executed set play from the bench that helped the Cougars build up an early lead at the start of the game.

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