PULLMAN – A career day by Charles Callison was just enough to get the Cougars back on the winning track against their perennial nemesis.
Washington State outlasted Colorado 91-89 in overtime thanks to Callison’s career-high 30 points.
Callison connected on almost everything, even a deep step-back jumper during which coach Ernie Kent begged him not to shoot, then laughed as the shot went in. He made 12 of 16 shots, and 6 of 9 3-point attempts, at one point hitting from deep on three consecutive possessions to turn a tie game into a 70-61 WSU lead.
“After the first few it looked like I was throwing a rock into the ocean,” Callison said.
Callison did not have to shoulder the burden himself. In fact, the winning basket was made by Ike Iroegbu, who rebounded the ball with 10 seconds left and drove the length of the court, waving away Callison who was under the basket and driving through traffic to score.
Iroegbu had 20 points, Josh Hawkinson had 18 and sophomore guard Viont’e Daniels added 12 by hitting 4-of-5 3-point attempts.
“I’ve often talked about the growth potential of this team,” Kent said. “What I meant by that is guys on their bench finding their games. Viont’e Daniels has been shooting it like that every day in practice, just hasn’t done it in the games and now here he comes.”
WSU (10-9, 3-4 Pac-12) ended a four-game losing streak while Colorado (10-10, 0-7) saw its losing streak hit seven games. The Cougars were coming off one of the worst home losses in decades – Wednesday’s 88-47 debacle against Utah.
The games between these two opponents are always close – every matchup in Pullman since Kent arrived has been decided by three points or less, and last year’s game in Boulder went to double overtime.
“Colorado’s a good basketball team,” Kent said. “Unfortunately, the schedule is what bit them – having to start out with three games on the road is tough in this conference and they have not gotten their footing yet.”
Thanks to everyone’s hot shooting, the Cougars held a comfortable 10-point lead with 3:26 left in regulation time. But during the game’s final media timeout, CU coach Tad Boyle put on a full-court press that the Cougars had trouble breaking.
The Buffaloes whittled away at the lead and Derrick White made a layup and was fouled shortly after, and his free throw cut WSU’s lead to 81-79 with 136 to play.
The Cougars used the full shot clock but could not score on their next possession, which turned out to be a boon since Malachi Flynn got the offensive rebound. The Cougars used the full shot clock again and Hawkinson scored on a hook shot at the buzzer.
George King scored and the Buffaloes fouled Iroegbu to send him to the line. Iroegbu missed his free throw and White then made a pair to tie the game and send it to overtime.
The Buffaloes took early control in the extra period, scoring on their first two possessions to take an 87-83 lead. But WSU ended the game on an 8-2 run, with Conor Clifford tying the game at 89-all on a deft spin move into a hook shot coming out of a timeout.
The Cougars credited a small but spirited crowd for giving them the deciding burst of energy once both teams were tired.
“Shout out to everybody that came to the game. We know the last one was ugly,” Iroegbu said. “ We knew coming into the game it was going to be close. We knew they needed a win as badly as we needed a win. But this is our home court. We couldn’t lose.”