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Sports >  WSU basketball

USC’s Boogie Ellis hits game-winning jumper, sends Washington State to another agonizing defeat

Feb. 20, 2022 Updated Sun., Feb. 20, 2022 at 9:39 p.m.

Southern California guard Boogie Ellis (0) makes the go-ahead basket in the closing seconds of a Pac-12 win over Washington State on Sunday in Los Angeles.  (Associated Press)
Southern California guard Boogie Ellis (0) makes the go-ahead basket in the closing seconds of a Pac-12 win over Washington State on Sunday in Los Angeles. (Associated Press)
By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

Washington State lived by the 3 and died by a midrange jumper.

Southern Cal guard Boogie Ellis sliced inside and pulled up from the free-throw line. His shot fell with .2 on the clock, sending WSU to another excruciating loss, 62-60 on Sunday at Galen Center in Los Angeles.

The Cougs (14-12, 7-8 Pac-12) went 15 of 31 from downtown and finished 5 of 32 inside the arc. They led the 17th-ranked Trojans (23-4, 12-4) for most of the second half – building an eight-point advantage midway through the period – but the upset bid lost steam late. WSU couldn’t sustain its sharpshooting and dropped its fifth consecutive game.

Heartbreaking losses this season have crippled WSU’s NCAA Tournament hopes. The Cougars have suffered six one-possession defeats. They missed a buzzer-beating 3-point attempt in a 63-61 loss to the Trojans in Pullman on Dec. 4.

“We’ve had a number of them (close losses),” coach Kyle Smith said. “(USC) is a really good team, and we had a chance to beat them both times. They had our number this year. Maybe we’ll catch them again in the conference tournament.”

Ellis slashed his way to a game-high 21 points. He got a step on WSU guard Tyrell Roberts at the right wing with about 3 seconds left and fashioned just enough breathing room with a quick stop at the stripe, then popped the winner.

“He’s our best on-ball defender. He’s quick and hard to get around,” Smith said when asked about Roberts’ defensive assignment. “We were trying to turn them over and we didn’t.”

Roberts shot 4 of 8 from distance and paced the Cougars with 16 points. Point guard Michael Flowers rained in four more 3s, finishing with 12 points. Forward Andrej Jakimovski and guard Noah Williams tacked on three triples apiece, logging 10 and 14 points, respectively.

Center Dishon Jackson returned from an eye injury after 10 games sidelined. His physical presence was crucial for WSU defensively. He held standout USC post Isaiah Mobley to eight points on 2 of 6. But the Cougars were ineffective underneath on offense. Jackson recorded five of their six points in the paint.

“They packed the paint on us and made it hard for us to score around the rim,” Smith said.

WSU’s 15 made 3s marks a single-game high in three years under Smith.

“They gave us some pretty good looks (from 3) and we made a number of them, but we gotta be able to finish more. Our 2-point field-goal percentage (15.6%) was unbelievable.”

Flowers netted back-to-back 3s to lift WSU to an eight-point edge with just more than 11 minutes remaining. From there, the Cougars shot 1 of 5 from downtown, missed four free throws, committed four turnovers and absorbed their 12 straight loss in the series with USC.

The Trojans were held to 18 field goals, matching their season low. They shot 19 of 25 from the foul line compared to WSU’s 5 of 10 mark on free throws.

“In the middle 32 minutes, we were really good,” Smith said. “We got off to a bad start and had a poor finish. (USC) made plays, Boogie made a lot down the stretch. They made big shots and we weren’t even able to get shots down the stretch. We turned it over too much and missed free throws.”

WSU won the rebounding battle 41-34, including 16-6 on the offensive glass. The Cougs managed five second-chance points. Jakimovski corralled 11 rebounds for his double-double and DJ Rodman snagged eight. WSU’s regular starters in the frontcourt, Efe Abogidi and Mouhamed Gueye, played a combined 15 minutes as the Cougars relied on perimeter play.

They were 9 of 17 from long range at halftime and led by four points.

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