What do you call a game that sees five first-half free throws and 43 after halftime?
It certainly wasn't pretty and that tale of two halves somewhat told the story of the game, although really it was more a tale of two quarters since the Cougars nearly doubled their 10-point halftime lead over the first nine minutes of the second half and then saw it all but evaporate as the game went on.
Here is the game story and postgame videos of Ernie Kent, Dexter Kernich-Drew, DaVonté Lacy and Junior Longrus.
-- I touched on Jordan Longrus' big hustle play to basically seal the win in the game story, in which he missed a free throw but bounded over to near the 3-point line to secure the rebound. The play knocked a few more seconds off the board and he made a good decision to get the ball in the hands of Ike Iroegbu, a 73 percent foul shooter.
Prior to that he made a more-important free throw to give the Cougars a four-point lead.
Kent refers to Longrus as "the loudest voice in the locker room" and, watching them interact it is clear his words and hustle have clearly garnered the respect of his teammates. To see that cinch a win for WSU seemed to mean a lot to the players.
-- I've heard from a few different people close to the program that when Dexter Kernich-Drew first arrived on campus his coaches and teammates thought he was the one guy in the program with the best shot at a professional career because of shooting and athleticism.
I don't know that Kernich-Drew has played his way into a draft selection or anything, but he's probably made some money for himself somewhere with this late-season scoring bender.
Both the shooting and the athleticism were on display yesterday as he made his first five shots including four 3-pointers, and then had a gnarly dunk when he drove baseline.
As CougCenter's Jeff Nusser pointed out during the game, Kernich-Drew does appear to have altered his shot somewhat since last season and maybe that's the reason for his deft shooting.
He demurred when I asked him about it afterwards, saying he didn't make any conscious changes while acknowledging that he "probably gets up a lot more shots than I used to."
-- Josh Hawkinson has tied the single-season school record for double-doubles. Hawkinson is a sophomore who barely played last year.
Here's some quotes that didn't make the game story:
Kent on USC's near-comeback: "To their credit with the way they play, their style of play, they just keep coming at you. They keep shooting the ball, they keep attacking you and it was very difficult to keep them at bay but I'm proud of my guys for getting their third road win."
Kernich-Drew on letting the lead slip away: "Learning to close out a game is something we've got to work on. We had a 20-point lead in the game; I kind of wanted to get the freshmen and guys that don't really play that much in because I used to be one of those guys that didn’t play much and sat on the bench."
Longrus on the play: "I think as players we all want to help our teams no matter what it is, whether hitting the free throw or getting the rebound."