Reigning Pac-12 freshmen of the week Mouhammed Gueye left the game in the middle of the second half with an apparent ankle injury as No. 4 Arizona (21-2, 11-1) trounced WSU (14-8, 7-4) 72-60 on Thursday night. The game turned when the Wildcats hit back-to-back threes to kill a Washington State rally and put the game out of reach.
Bennedict Mathurin and Justin Kier nailed threes with 10:02 and 9:36 respectively to take the Wildcats lead from 12 to 18 immediately after Gueye had drilled a three of his own to start to get the Cougars back into the game. Kier’s three was the killer as it came off of a Washington State turnover on its brief possession after Mathurin’s three pointer. With an 18 point deficit, and their shots not falling again, the Cougars odds of a comeback had become practically nil in less than 26 seconds.
The worst part was that the Cougs had had to overcome a 13 point halftime deficit to even get back in the game, and they had. Out of the locker room, WSU went on a 15-4 run (19-4 if you go back to the end of the first half) to cut Zona’s lead down to four at 39-35.
Efe Abogidi scored the first seven points for Washington State and that included the squad’s first three pointer in the game. Tyrell Robers drained a three of his own on the Cougars next possession to make it 36-30 and we all of the sudden had a game again. Michael Flowers also joined the three parade as the Cougars finally found their shot and the rims started to go their way. But a missed layup by TJ Bamba with the score at 39-35 led to the Wildcats getting an easy bucket on the fast break and the game suddenly tumbled out of control.
Zona’s lead in the second half reached 20 points with 5:46 left before both sides rotated their bench players in. The Cougars closed out the game on a 12-4 run to give us the final margin.
While the first half started off relatively competitive, both teams matched each other run for run, the Wildcats took advantage of a nearly seven minute scoring drought for Washington State and went on a 13-0 run to push their lead out to 33-16 before Flowers ended the drought with a second-chance jumper. That run was kick started by a wide open three by Larsson to make it 26-16 with 7:53 left in the half.
The WSU defense was able to keep Arizona off the board in the final 1:37 of the half, while its offense only put up four points before both teams headed into the locker room with the score at 33-20.
Arizona’s big run came as the result of a remarkable cold stretch for the Cougars on the offensive end. Multiple shots rimmed out, and few offensive boards that left the offense with almost no second chances. Even when the Cougs did get uncontested shots, they couldn’t get them to fall. This was especially true from beyond the arc where WSU was 0-12 at the buzzer.
Until that run, the half was fairly competitive despite some horrifically bad whistles from the refs against WSU. Arizona had started the game off with the first two buckets to make the score 4-0, but it didn’t take long for WSU to knot it up. That was followed by a 6-0 run for Zona that was kick started by a pair of Mathurin Bennedict free throws; but then a pair of Abogidi free throws kick started a 6-0 run for Washington State to tie-it at ten.
Arizona then reeled off the next four points before WSU could get back on the board. Both squads swapped buckets until the Cats went off on their 13-0 run to take the lead.
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Photo Credit: Washington State athletic communications