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Sports >  WSU basketball

Baylor Scheierman’s buzzer-beater lifts South Dakota State to win over Washington State 77-74

Dec. 11, 2021 Updated Sat., Dec. 11, 2021 at 8:26 p.m.

By Jason Shoot The Spokesman-Review

Kyle Smith didn’t have the best vantage point for a shot he didn’t want to see fall through the hoop anyway.

Washington State’s head coach watched from afar as Baylor Scheierman drilled a 35-foot jumper at the final horn and lifted South Dakota State to a 77-74 win over the Cougars in a nonconference men’s basketball game at the Arena on Saturday.

WSU (7-3) evened the score at 74-all with TJ Bamba’s two free throws with 23 seconds remaining. Scheierman dribbled across midcourt and saw the Jackrabbits’ leading scorer, Noah Freidel, locked down by Bamba, unable to wiggle free as the seconds ticked down. Scheierman backed away into open space and hoisted a high-arcing rainbow that barely grazed the rim on its way through the net for the winning points.

“That thing stayed in the air forever,” Smith said. “Never for a second did I think it wasn’t going in. It’s just how it is. He hit a tough shot, and he didn’t leave any time on the clock or anything.”

The contest featured some wild swings in momentum. The Cougars couldn’t sustain early momentum and trailed 39-31 at halftime. WSU opened the second half on a 19-5 run to take a 50-44 lead, but South Dakota State (9-3) scored 20 of the game’s next 24 points to seize a 64-54 advantage with 6½ minutes remaining.

Freidel’s pull-up jumper from 15 feet gave the Jackrabbits a 74-70 lead with 1:10 left. Michael Flowers, who finished with a career-high 24 points to lead the Cougars, hit a long jumper just inside the arc to halve the deficit with 31 seconds remaining.

The Cougars swarmed Scheierman the moment he received the ensuing inbounds pass, and Noah Williams stole the ball away. He delivered a pass to Bamba, who was fouled at the basket and tied the game at 74 with two free throws.

Bamba complemented Flowers with 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting from the field. He was an active presence and contributed five rebounds.

“His attitude and work ethic is as good as anyone I’ve ever been around, and he’s really mature as a competitor,” Smith said of Bamba, a 6-foot-5 guard. “He had a lot to learn and never, never flinched last year. I said, ‘Hey, you’re not ready defensively.’ He wasn’t a good decision-maker.

“But to play 38 minutes (Saturday) and not have a turnover for him is great. He had two blocks, he made some drives, some big plays and made some big free throws. He’s technically only a freshman, so that’s a good thing. He just needs to keep getting better and keep going.”

Williams, WSU’s leading scorer this season averaging 14 points a game, was held scoreless in the first half and finished with six points on 1-for-9 shooting. Another player scoring in double figures (10.9 ppg) this season, Tyrell Roberts, was held without a point on 0-for-5 shooting.

“They were a little under the weather, both of them,” Smith said. “They were warriors about it. They did their best to get out there and compete. It was tricky. Some others, too, they were hurt and stuff. But no excuses. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We’ve got to be good enough to find a way there.”

Flowers made four of WSU’s nine 3-pointers and also dished out five of his team’s 11 assists.

“I kind of just read the game, and I’m one of those players who takes what the defense gives me,” Flowers said. “Tonight, I got a couple open looks, and they were going in. I let a couple go, though, that felt like should’ve went in as well, but that’s how it goes. My teammates found me out there, and I was able to hit some shots.”

South Dakota State entered as one of the premier 3-point shooting teams in the country, hitting 44.6% from distance. The Jackrabbits outperformed that mark, though, with a 10-for-16 effort (62.5%) beyond the arc.

Freidel scored 23 points and knocked down four 3-pointers to pace South Dakota State. Zeke Mayo added 17 points, and his three consecutive 3-pointers midway through the first half turned a 20-all tie into a 29-22 lead. Scheierman had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Jackrabbits, who outrebounded the taller Cougars 36-34.

WSU will host New Mexico State ( Wednesday) and Northern Colorado (Saturday) at Beasley Coliseum in Pullman before returning to the Arena for a game against Boise State on Dec. 22.

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