After two-straight sound beatings by Colorado and Arizona, the Washington State Cougars got off the mat again yesterday to knock off the Arizona State Sun Devils 86-71 with a rousing second-half surge.
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Ike Iroegbu finished Saturday’s 86-71 win over Arizona State with 17 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Josh Hawkinson posted 14 points and 15 rebounds, and fellow senior Conor Clifford, the seven-foot center, dropped 19 points on the Sun Devils. Washington State Cougars head coach Ernie Kent called on his seniors to pick up the team, and they responded.
After the Washington State Cougars first season sweep of a conference opponent since 2011 on Saturday, Hawkinson said Kent’s message was “a reality check to put things into perspective. How long we’ve been here, how many more practices we have, how hard we’ve worked just to throw it away doesn’t make any sense.”
The Cougars were in danger of throwing yet another Pac-12 game away in the first half, trailing the Sun Devils by as many as 12. Then they clamped down on defense and streamlined their offense in the second. The Cougars shot 62 percent from the field in the second half and held Arizona State to a mere 26 percent shooting in the second.
Hawkinson and the senior leadership led the way, and freshman point guard Malachi Flynn chipped in 14 points and seven assists for the Washington State Cougars, who will take on Washington in Pullman this Sunday.
Hawkinson set a Cougar record with his 54th career double-double, passing Steve Puidokas, whose record had stood since 1977.
JOSH HAWKINSONForward, Washington State Cougars
With the Cougars suddenly playing inspired ball again, they have a good chance of sweeping Markelle Fultz and the Huskies this weekend.
No matter how they finish, this season has to be graded a success under Kent after winning one Pac-12 game last year.