Michael Flowers scored 30 points in the Cougar men’s basketball (15-13, 8-9) 78-70 loss to UW (14-13, 9-8) in Seattle, Wash. It was a historic performance from the transfer senior as he hit seven of his 12 three point attempts, and two of his six two pointers. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to overcome the fact that three Huskies were in double digits as they split the season series.
Terrell Brown Jr. went off in the second half after the Cougs had taken him out of the game in the previous three halves of basketball. Of his 25 points, 21 come in the second half as he effectively sliced and diced the Cougar’s zone defense — he hit seven of his 12 shots in the second half, all inside the two point arc. Brown Jr.’s night really got going right out of the gate in the second half when he drove the lane to cut Washington State’s lead down to four.
But where the senior really made a difference was in the middle of the Huskies’ 16-4 run that put them in the lead with 13:13 left in the game — a lead they would never give up. Brown Jr. was responsible for five of those points. It was the moment that the game had shifted into the home team’s favor.
While Dishon Jackson would get to the free throw line, he’d sink both shots, to put an end to the run; the damage had been done and Washington State’s defense had a hard time earning stops while the offense was finally hitting shots again.
Flowers would draw a technical foul and hit both of those free throws to make it 46-42. And that was followed up by a midrange jumper from Mouhamed Gueye after DJ Rodman picked off a pass from Daejon Davis to cut Washington’s lead down to two — the closest the score would get in the final 12 minutes. But Emmit Matthews Jr. hit a wide open three in response and Washington’s lead was back out to five. At this point the game became a series of buckets as neither defense was able to get a stop.
Matthews Jr., Efe Abogidi, Nate Roberts, and Brown Jr. would all score buckets on successive possessions over the next two and a half minutes.
But it was Brown Jr. who asserted himself during this flurry of activity. Matthews Jr. picked Abogidi’s pocket and then quickly dished the ball over to Brown Jr. The senior drove the lane off of the turnover for his second consecutive bucket to make it 57-51 UW. He’d then hit his third straight bucket about 47 seconds later after an empty WSU possession. Brow Jr.’s fourth straight bucket put himself on an 8-0, and Washington on an 9-0 run to make its lead nine with 7:14 left in the game.
DJ Rodman would draw a foul and put an end to Washington State’s scoring drought after he nailed both free throws. But the Cougar offense would cough up the ball and Jamal Bey would turn that into a layup to keep Washington’s lead at nine. Gueye and Tyrell Roberts would both hit layups — while Davis hit the second of two shots from the charity stripe — to cut Washington’s lead down to six at 63-57. But the Cougar defense was unable to consistently get stops, whether it was in man-to-man or zone.
At this point the Cougars began to foul which sent Washington up to the free throw line on two consecutive possessions (they hit three of the four shots). But a three pointer from Noah Williams cut the lead back down to six and kept Washington State’s hopes alive for another couple of possessions.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as Washington outscored the Cougars 12-10 in the final 1:56 seconds to secure the win and the season split. The Huskies had three players score double digits (Bey, Brown Jr., and Matthews Jr.) while Washington State only had two (Flowers and Gueye). It was easily the most efficient offensive game of the season as Mike Hopkins’ squad scored 1.16 points per possession; WSU scored .972.
Flowers would score his 20th point of the first half when he sank his third straight free throw. The transfer was fouled in the corner opposite the Husky bench by Bey, he hit all three of his shots from the charity stripe to make it 34-28 with 45 seconds left in the half. Matthews threw up a three that hit the rim and then the ball went out of bounds when Fuller stepped on the end line. Washington State had two chances to score another bucket at the buzzer, none of them went in as the Cougs went to the locker room with a six point lead.
Washington’s last bucket of the half came when Davis hit the second of two free throws after Roberts was hit with a weak flagrant at the rim. Davis had picked off a pass from Rodman and Roberts wasn’t in a good position defensively so he made a smart foul that the officials decided was more than a personal.
It was a sloppy end to half that saw the Cougars on a 7-3 run to push their lead out to six. Roberts and Williams scored a combined four points on back-to-back offensive possessions for WSU. That’s when Bajema drove the lane of of a turnover when Williams hit the floor and lost control of the ball — there was no whistle blown here. Brown Jr. had probably his most dominant stretch on the floor for UW as he drew a foul against Williams, sank one of two free throws, on the possession immediately after he’d hit a pullup jumper from near the charity stripe.
It was the third straight half where the Cougs had done a fantastic job of limiting the Pac-12’s leading scorer. Brown Jr. only had scored four points on nine shots from the field and none from beyond the arc.
While WSU had limited Brown’s effectiveness, the Huskies had inconsistent success at limiting Gueye in the paint. The problem UW’s defense was faced with was that in order to closely guard the freshmen, they had to take defenders away from Flowers. And the senior had made them pay as he hit five threes in the first half. The first of those threes came with a hand in his face at 16:45 out near the Space Needle on UW’s court; the excellent defense didn’t matter as the shot found nothing but net.
In fact, that was consistent theme for the Flowers throughout the night. No matter how tight the defense was on him from behind the arc, he still hit his shots. The senior was five of seven from three point land, had hit his only shot from inside the arc, and had drained all three of his free throw attempts.
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Photo Credit: Washington men’s basketball