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Sports >  WSU basketball

USC escapes with a home win over Washington State, overcoming career night from Cougars post Mouhamed Gueye

Feb. 2, 2023 Updated Fri., Feb. 3, 2023 at 3:28 a.m.

A career night from center Mouhamed Gueye wasn’t enough for Washington State, which ran out of steam in the final minutes of a tightly contested Pac-12 matchup against USC.

The Trojans outscored WSU 16-5 over the final 4 minutes to hold off the Cougars 80-70 on Thursday at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.

The Cougars (10-14, 5-8 Pac-12) trailed by as many as seven points with about 7 minutes to play, but surged back and took a two-point lead with 4:29 on the clock. USC answered with a 6-0 spurt and gradually built upon the lead.

WSU was within one possession with less than 2 minutes to play, but had two of its shots blocked and committed two costly turnovers in the next minute, allowing USC to finally create separation. Standout Trojan forward Drew Peterson closed the door with 52 seconds left, burying a step-back 3.

The Trojans (16-6, 8-3) claimed their 11th straight home win while avenging an 81-71 loss at WSU on Jan. 1. The Cougs fell to 1-10 in Quad 1 games.

Gueye was a force in the paint throughout the first half, piling up 20 of his career-high 31 points before intermission. The 6-11 sophomore scored eight points in the first 3 minutes of the second half, but slowed down afterward. Gueye finished 14 of 21 from the field and added 12 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double – and his 10th double-double of the season.

His teammates combined to shoot 13 of 38 (34.2%) from the field. WSU’s ball-handlers lacked a consistent scoring punch, but had a sharp passing outing, driving and dishing to Gueye for clean looks at the rim. The Cougs doled out 19 assists – one shy of a season high – on 27 field goals.

WSU guard Justin Powell added 11 points, shooting 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Guard TJ Bamba, the Cougs’ leading scorer on the season, was held to seven points on 2 of 10 from the floor. Bamba knocked down his first 3 of the game with 2:05 remaining, trimming WSU’s deficit to one point.

WSU, the top 3-point shooting team in the Pac-12, went 8 of 23 (34.8%) from distance.

USC guard Boogie Ellis tallied a team-high 23 points, scoring 17 in the second half. Ellis hit five 3s, two of them coming during a crucial 9-1 run midway through the second half that ended with USC up by seven points. The Trojans shot at an efficient clip – 52% from the field and 9 of 19 from distance – and committed just seven turnovers to counter WSU’s rebounding advantage of 32-25 overall and 10-3 offensively.

“Obviously, we were playing a little shorthanded, but I thought we played very well offensively, and we rebounded the ball well enough, but we did not defend them well enough,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said. “Boogie and (forward Drew) Peterson made some really tough shots.”

WSU played without senior forward DJ Rodman, backup center Adrame Diongue and reserve guard Dylan Darling, all of whom were sidelined due to illness. Rodman has started 21 games, averaging 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Diongue and Darling, both true freshmen, have proven themselves as capable defenders off the bench.

With limited depth, the Cougars were outplayed by a narrow margin in a game that included 10 lead changes and scoring runs back and forth.

Gueye scored WSU’s first 11 points of the game and the Cougars went on a 16-4 run over 4 minutes to open up a commanding lead midway through the first half. Forward Andrej Jakimovski hit a corner 3-pointer and Gueye followed with a traditional three-point play to put WSU on top 26-13 at the 9:34 mark.

The Trojans responded with a hot-shooting spree of their own, compiling a 17-2 run over the next 4 minutes to snatch the lead. Powered by Peterson, who scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half, USC went into the break up 37-35.

The Trojans lost standout forward Joshua Morgan to a lower-body injury 5 minutes into the game. The 6-11 junior ranks No. 10 nationally in blocked shots.

WSU meets No. 9 UCLA (18-4, 9-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins boast a 12-0 record this season on their home court.

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