WSU Cougars Battle Arizona Hard, But Fall in the End

It would have been easy to predict the WSU Cougars losing to seventh-ranked Arizona on the road last night, but there’s hope for Ernie Kent’s crew after an encouraging performance.

The WSU Cougars trailed mighty Arizona on the road by six points at halftime and weren’t ready to give up on the game just yet. Head coach Ernie Kent must have said something inspiring to his team in the locker room, because the Cougars came out shooting in the second half.

They eventually tied the game at 39 midway through the second half, but in the end, Arizona had too much depth and put the Cougars away. With just under eight minutes to go, the WSU Cougars trailed by only three. But that was as close as they would get. Arizona would eventually pull away to win at home 79-62.

Connor Clifford led the WSU Cougars in scoring with 19 points and five rebounds against a talented frontcourt. On the other side, likely NBA Draft first overall pick Lauri Makkanen hit four three-pointers and pulled down 13 boards. Arizona’s Allonzo Tier scored 17 points and dished out seven assists in his first home action since he was suspended for PED use at the start of the season.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign from Kent’s team was that the Cougars shot 47.8 percent from the field against a top-notch defense. WSU Cougars point guard Malachi Flynn finished with 13 points on five of eight shooting.

Flynn showed poise and an understanding of the kind of offense Kent and company are trying to run. Arizona eventually downed Washington State with a bench stocked full of talent against Kent’s favored seven-man rotation, but against a shallower team, the Cougars would have had an excellent chance to win, considering their shooting in this game.

The WSU Cougars will take on Arizona State in Tempe on Sunday at 11a.m. on the Pac-12 Network.