PULLMAN – Justin Powell and Andrej Jakimovski sparked Washington State in the first half, and the two provided the game-clinching boost for the Cougars down the stretch.
The two combined for 42 points on an 11-for-21 effort from 3-point range, lifting WSU to a 75-58 Pac-12 victory over Arizona State on Saturday evening at Beasley Coliseum.
Powell and Jakimovski totaled five 3-pointers during a 5-minute stretch midway through the first half, guiding WSU (10-13, 5-7 Pac-12) to a 15-point lead.
The Sun Devils (15-7, 6-5) charged back in the second half, trimming the deficit to five points with 6:45 remaining. Powell and Jakimovski responded with clutch baskets, scoring 15 of the Cougars’ final 22 points.
Powell hit two 3s in 2 minutes to curb Arizona State’s rally. Jakimovski added a driving layup and a corner 3-pointer to restore a sizable lead for the Cougars, who stayed ahead comfortably for the final 6 minutes.
Jakimovski tallied a career-high 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field. The junior forward added six rebounds.
“It definitely feels great to see a couple of shots going in,” he said. “We know on Thursday (in a loss to Arizona) that we couldn’t make open shots. So, coming into this game, we were focused on making shots, and I think we executed well on offense.”
Powell, a junior guard, scored a season-high 20 points and also shot 7 of 14 from the floor. The Tennessee transfer had been on a cold 3-point-shooting stretch recently. He went 3 of 12 over the past three games but hit 6 of 11 attempts Saturday.
“I had a couple of games where I wasn’t hitting as much and I’ve been up and down on my 3s lately,” Powell said. “It feels great having a game like that, because the momentum will carry onto the next.”
The rest of the Cougars combined to shoot 10 of 37 from the field and 3 of 13 on 3-pointers in a game that included several extended periods of offensive sluggishness for the hosts. Center Mouhamed Gueye contributed 11 points (3-of-11 shooting from the field) and 15 rebounds, seven on offense, for his ninth double-double of the year.
WSU controlled the glass and had one of its best defensive efforts of the season to keep the Sun Devils at bay. Arizona State shot 34% from the floor and 5 of 15 from 3. The Cougars outrebounded the visitors 47-33, including a 16-7 advantage on offensive boards.
“We were just really gritty,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said.
The Cougars snapped a three-game slide and avenged a 77-71 loss to the Sun Devils on Jan. 5 in Tempe.
“We thought we had our worst defensive effort this year when we played them the first time,” Powell said. “We knew we had to lock them down.”
Guards Frankie Collins and Desmond Cambridge Jr. scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, to pace the Sun Devils.
WSU started the game 2 of 11 on 3-point attempts but got hot from beyond the arc midway through the half. The Cougars hit five consecutive 3-pointers during a 19-4 run that spanned about 5 minutes and resulted in a 36-24 WSU lead at the break.
The Cougars slumped on offense for the first 10 minutes of the second half, hitting four of their first 17 shots, but used timely baskets late and tight defense to preserve the lead.
“I thought we put a lot into that game Thursday night (a 63-58 loss to No. 6 Arizona) … and I was a little concerned at shootaround, but our guys did a really good job of just playing tough,” Smith said. “We had some guys that didn’t play as well as they could have, but we played hard, played like a team and it was a really good win for us.”
WSU heads to Los Angeles next week for a Pac-12 series that begins with an 8 p.m. game Thursday at USC.