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Saturday, October 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

Grip on Sports: It’s a tough lesson to learn, but winning tight games is an acquired skill for every team

Washington forward Noah Dickerson  shoots while defended by Washington State forward Jeff Pollard during the first half  Saturday in Pullman. (Young Kwak / AP)
Washington forward Noah Dickerson shoots while defended by Washington State forward Jeff Pollard during the first half Saturday in Pullman. (Young Kwak / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Learning how to win is a tough aspect of sports some people overlook. Until it becomes part of a team’s skill set, there can be some tough finishes to games. Read on.

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• There were quite a few examples of that yesterday, the most notable of which happened in Pullman around 8 p.m.

Washington State may have won a couple Pac-12 road games last week, but the Cougars are still finding their way in close games. And they lost the path against Washington late in their rivalry game last night. The result? Their 15th loss of the season.

There were other, more positive, examples as well Saturday, with Gonzaga showing it knows the way to Victory City no matter how winding the road is, Eastern Washington once again protecting its home court and, in the high school ranks, Gonzaga Prep illustrating how to navigate the way to a District title against an out-of-town rival.

As with most things sports-related, experience is a tough teacher, but a crucial companion in clutch moments.

The Bulldogs have a lot of experience holding off inspired foes on the road and it showed again last night in San Diego. Eastern has found different ways to win home games this season, picking up its sixth consecutive Big Sky game on Reese Court while going overtime to get it done. That streak is one short of the consecutive wins G-Prep has over Richland High, dating back at least three years.

Winning may not be a habit – most habits don’t have an opponent that can alter the outcome – but it does seem to be an acquired skill. And the lessons needed to get the degree are usually tough. It’s a pretty cool diploma, however, to hang on your wall.

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Gonzaga: It’s funny how second meetings in one season can be so drastically different than the first. But in this case, the outcome was the same. The Bulldogs used a couple of second-half runs to win their 25th game of the season. Jim Meehan was in Jenny Craig and has the game analysis as well as the keys to victory. The guys in the office put together a recap with highlights. And I sat at home and watched as Bill Walton put on his show and wrote the TV Take. I got paid to watch the game from San Diego but there were times it didn’t seem worth it. … Earlier in the day the Gonzaga women hosted BYU in a game seemingly decided by a whistle in the final two seconds. But it was really decided when the Bulldogs failed to communicate on defense and struggled to guard the Cougars’ late ball-screen action. Jim Allen has the game story, John Blanchette has a column on what the loss means to GU and Dan Pelle has an in-depth photo report. … Former Gonzaga star Jason Bay will be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. … This year's baseball team lost to Oregon State. … Around the WCC, Santa Clara got back on the winning track against Pacific. … BYU rallied at Loyola Marymount and remains in second place.

WSU: The Cougars led for much of the game last night. But key turnovers late played a big role in the outcome. Theo Lawson was there and has this game story. It was a must-win game for Washington, if it hopes to make the NCAA Tournament even if it falls in the Pac-12 postseason tourney. … The baseball team also lost, but it was at Saint Mary’s. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Oregon State swept Oregon in a season series for the first time in a while. The Ducks are getting hard to watch. … It was hard to watch Stanford defeat UCLA when the game was delayed 35 minutes at the half due to the backboards being replaced. … USC’s Bennie Boatwright was just watched by California’s defense as he hit 10 3-pointers. … Arizona is in disarray and Colorado is hot. Who wins today in Boulder? … Arizona State went into Utah and outscored the Utes. … In football news, Washington isn’t making changes in its defensive staff. … Arizona State is halfway through spring practice.

EWU: If the Eagles could play every conference game at home, they would be leading the league. However, half of the games are outside of Cheney and they are just 7-6 in Big Sky play. Ryan Collingwood was at Reese Court yesterday and has the story of Eastern putting a dent in Northern Colorado’s conference title hopes. … Around the Big Sky, Montana stayed atop the standings with a win at Idaho State. … Weber State bounced back with a win. … Northern Arizona snapped its losing streak. … The Lumberjacks' athletic director Mike Marlow looked back at his first year.

Whitworth: It had been 23 games since Puget Sound had defeated Whitworth. Until last night. The Loggers’ 87-72 victory snapped that long streak. … The Pirate women won against UPS, but failed to make the postseason tournament.

Chiefs: Spokane rallied but fell in Kennewick to the Tri-City Americans, 7-5.

Preps: It was busy day in high school sports yesterday, with the Washington wrestling titles decided in Tacoma. We have roundups of the results from the large schools and those not so large. … We also have a roundup of the regional gymnastics meet. … And yes, there was basketball yesterday. A lot of basketball. Dave Nichols spent the day at the Spokane Arena, where the big schools decided District 8 titles. He has stories from Gonzaga Prep’s win in the 4A boys, Lewis and Clark’s victory in the 4A girls, as well as from Mt. Spokane’s victories in the 3A girls and 3A boys. There were other District 8 games too and Dave has those results in this roundup. … We also can pass along roundups from boys and girls games in the other classifications.

Mariners: Believe it or not, Ichiro is 45 years old. And still ready to play.

Seahawks: The defensive line has some question marks. Big ones. … The Hawks want to keep the offensive line together.

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• My experience with Walton goes all the way back to 1970, when he was in high school. He earned recognition from Sports Illustrated in the “Faces in the Crowd” feature for scoring 50 points against Pasadena High. The center at PHS who was the victim of most of those baskets? A friend I worked with on Sunday mornings, Tommy Edwards. By the way, take a look at the name right above Walton’s in this flash from past. Until later …

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