After a 76-67 defeat to the California Golden Bears on Thursday, the WSU Cougars fell into a 4-game losing streak where they looked out of sync and inconsistent. Also with one of the top offenses in the Pac-12 in Stanford coming into Pullman, it did not seem like things were going to get better. However, the Cougars showed once again that there is something different about them with Ernie Kent at head coach: resiliency. The erased an early 14-point lead and came back to win a thriller 89-88 over the Stanford Cardinal.
The Cougars were led by their senior guard DaVonte Lacy who had 25 points. Sophomore forward Josh Hawkinson notched another double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Cougars also received help from two players who had been struggling of late. Sophomore guard Ike Iroegbu had 14 points and sophomore wing player Que Johnson also had 14 points in his first start of the season.
The Cougars had relied on Ny Redding as a starter in the previous 14 games but Ernie Kent decided to switch up the starting lineup and the change paid off in the end. Redding came off the bench and had six points and three assists. It was truly a team effort in the win. Each member in the starting lineup for the Cougars finished with double digit points.
Stanford was led by the Pac-12 leading scorer Chasson Randle. Randle had 33 points and nine rebounds to lead the Cardinal. Guard Anthony Brown and center Stefan Nastic each added 10 points to the Cardinal's cause. Also, the Cardinal saw the return of their star freshman forward Reid Travis, who had been out since January 2 with a stress fracture in his leg.
The Cougars were in deep trouble early as Stanford was controlling pace of the game often. Half way through the first half, Stanford was up 29-15 over the Cougars. Ike Iroegbu was the only Cougar player playing well at the time. Then the Cougars started driving to the basket. They got Stanford into foul trouble and used the free throw line, good defensive possessions and two explosive dunks from Que Johnson to get back into the game. The Cougars actually led at halftime 41-40.
The second half was truly a back-and forth affair. The Cougars never allowed the Stanford Cardinal to take the lead but they could never push their lead beyond five points until 3:43 left in the game. DaVonte Lacy emerged in the second half and scored 20 of his 25 point in the second half.
Chasson Randle was the one player for the Stanford Cardinal who kept the game close. He made it a five point game with 2:46 remaining. The Cardinal made it interesting late but failed to tie the game as guard Roscoe Allen missed a game-tying floater with 21 seconds left. The Cougars pushed the lead to 87-83 before Nastic made a layup to make it 87-85. Ny Redding sealed the game with two free throws to make it 89-85 which were important too because guard Dorian Pickens made a three at the buzzer to make it 89-88.
The Cougars move to 10-11 and 4-5 in the Pac-12 Conference for the season. They head on the road to face the Oregon schools. The first one will be at Oregon State in Gill Coliseum Thursday, February 5 as the Cougars look to avenge a 62-47 loss in Pullman earlier this season.