Tyrell Roberts scored 23 points to lead all scorers as Washington State men’s basketball (20-14) earned its 20th win of the season and advanced to the second round of the NIT with a 63-50 win at Beasley Coliseum on Tuesday night.
The junior D2 transfer also hit seven threes, the most by a Cougar in the NIT, in the victory.
TJ Bamba started off the second half when he made the first of two free throws. That kicked off a 13-4 run that gave the Cougars a 40-27 lead with 14:57 left. Michael Flowers hit his second, and last, three pointer of the night and he paired that with a pair of free throws in the middle of the run. Efe Abogidi, and Roberts, also chipped in to help push the Cougars lead up to 13.
Santa Clara didn’t remain silent as the Broncos would eventually cut the deficit to nine thanks to Jalen Williams and Josip Vrankic. But the Cougs quickly responded with a 7-0 run that saw DJ Rodman, Dishon Jackson, and Roberts all chip in to get it back up to their lead back up to 14 with 9:30 left. The Broncos would never really threaten again in the game.
Washington State finished the night draining 34.5% of its shots from beyond the arc — thanks to 45.5% shooting in the second half — and 34.3% from two. During our preview interview with head coach Kyle Smith it was pointed out that they need to take care of the rock to win this game and they absolutely did. The Cougars only turned it over on 11.8% of their possessions.
The first half really belonged to Roberts as the guard hit four threes to lead all scorers as Washington State took a 27-23 lead into the halftime locker room. Vranick led the Broncos with nine points as the Cougs had done a fairly decent job of shutting down Jalen in the first half (1-6 from the field and 2-3 from the charity stripe). Noah’s attempt at a buzzer beater was wide which left Roberts as the guy who earned the half’s last bucket — a three, in case you were wondering.
It was back-to-back threes by Roberts, after a Jackson defensive board, that gave WSU a firm lead at 22-17. The Cougs would hold that lead all the way to the intermission.
Jacob Holt and PJ Pipes both hit threes on back-to-back possessions for the Broncos. But thanks to a jumper from Noah off of the fast break along with Roberts fourth three of the half, the closest Santa Clara would get in in the final three minutes was one. In fact, neither squad was able to score in the final 81 seconds.
Flowers was uncharacteristically cold in the first half as he went 1-6 from three and missed his only shot inside the arc. Abogidi and Noah Williams each had four points to help the offense get results despite the fact that it was only hitting 28.6% of shots — which led to 0.818 points per possession. Washington State had successfully held onto the ball as it only turned the rock over on 15% of possessions throughout the first period.
Next up for the Cougars is the winner of No. 1 seed SMU vs. Nicholls. If you want more basketball at Beasley Coliseum, you’re rooting for Nicholls.
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Photo Credit: Washington State athletic communications.