SEATTLE – In the first half, no defender had an answer for Washington State’s senior point guard. In the second, no Cougar could stop the Washington Huskies’ senior point guard.
Actually, WSU couldn’t seem to stop much of anything after halftime in the second round of this season’s Apple Cup basketball series.
UW standout Terrell Brown Jr., the Pac-12’s top scorer, scored 21 of his 25 points and shot 7 of 12 from the field after halftime, leading an efficient effort as the Huskies exacted revenge with a 78-70 rivalry win Saturday afternoon at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Brown responded after he was held to 1-of-9 shooting in the first half and limited to 11 points in WSU’s 78-70 victory over UW on Wednesday in Pullman. He slashed inside and knocked down a multitude of layups and floaters to spearhead a largely one-sided second period.
“Just absolutely one-on-one, they put us in the basket,” Cougars coach Kyle Smith said. “They just drove at us.
“We just couldn’t get stops. Brown really played well. He made some really difficult shots that you kinda have to tip your hat to.”
But it wasn’t all Brown. UW shot 64% from the floor in the second half – against the Cougars’ 34% mark – and outscored WSU (15-13, 8-9) 50-36 over the final 20 minutes.
The visitors got off to a 2-of-14 start from the floor over the opening 8 minutes of the second half and had their six-point halftime lead promptly erased. WSU shook off the ice as the half wore on and trimmed its deficit to three with about a minute remaining after rapid-succession 3s from guards Michael Flowers, Noah Williams and Tyrell Roberts.
UW (14-13, 9-8) didn’t let the Cougars get any closer. The Huskies came away with points on 16 of their last 20 offensive possessions to sustain their second-half advantage – which grew to as many as nine points with 2:39 on the clock – and silence the healthy Cougars contingent among the 7,269 in attendance.
“We played really well in the first half. I thought we left a little change on the table even,” Smith said. “They changed their defense – showed zone, played man and pressured, which bothered us.”
The Cougars controlled the lead throughout the first half behind Flowers. The senior point guard and team captain hit his first five attempts from 3-point range and scored 20 of his season-high 30 points before halftime. He finished 9 of 18 from the field and 7 of 12 from beyond the arc.
“He played well. It’s what seniors do this time of the year,” Smith said. “He brought a great effort and I think our effort as a team was OK. They played better than us. We had a couple of guys who played poorly.”
Excluding Flowers’ stat line, the Cougars combined to shoot 15 of 52 and 2 of 15 on 3-pointers.
WSU guard Noah Williams, a Seattle product , forced up shots and logged seven points on 2-of-13 shooting. Posts Mouhamed Gueye (10 points, seven rebounds) and Efe Abogidi (four points, two boards) had combined for 46 points in the Cougars’ win Wednesday, but the Huskies tinkered with their zone system, shoring up their soft spots in the paint and playing tighter coverage on the WSU big men.
“I expected (UW) to come with some man and pressure. They did, and we wilted a little bit (offensively),” Smith said. “We ran out of gas obviously, but I think some of that was their pressure and us getting discouraged with not scoring.”
The Huskies went 17 of 22 from the foul line in the second half (22 of 29 overall) to help seal it.
UW returned two key players from injury in forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. and guard Daejon Davis. Neither played in Pullman earlier this week. They scored 15 and nine points, respectively, combining to shoot 8 of 15 from the field.
Big-bodied post Nate Roberts had nine points and eight boards as UW earned its second victory against Smith’s Cougars in the past six tries. Guard TJ Bamba, who had missed the previous three games with a knee injury, played 9 minutes for WSU, which will meet Oregon State at 8 p.m. Monday in Corvallis.
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