This promised to be a weird one when just before tipoff it was announced that both starting point guards Quade Green (non-COVID illness) and Isaac Bonton (injury) would not be able to play. The offense was certainly disjointed but Marcus Tsohonis made the most of it finishing with 29 points including the game winning floater with 2 seconds remaining to give the Huskies a narrow 65-63 victory. The win snaps Washington’s 5-game losing streak and brings them to 4-16 (3-12) on the season.
If a random bystander happened across the start of this game and found out that both teams were missing their starting point guard they wouldn’t exactly have been surprised. Marcus Tsohonis managed to get a putback to start off the scoring but it took a while for anyone else to join the party. The score was just 2-0 UW at the first media timeout as the teams started off a combined 1/11 from the floor with plenty of turnovers sprinkled in.
Washington started to hit the outside shot though as Erik Stevenson and Cole Bajema’s back-to-back 3’s extended the Husky lead to 12-4 with 13:00 left in the half. Dishon Jackson was the Cougar’s only source of scoring early as he used his physicality to score inside and start racking up fouls on the Husky bigs. Fortunately Marcus Tsohonis started to heat up and his pull-up transition 3-pointer kept Washington’s lead up at 20-13.
The Cougars couldn’t turn the ball over every other possession forever though. They had a pair of shots that hit the rim at least 4 times before bouncing in as part of an 8-0 run that gave Washington State their first lead of the game at 21-20. Jamal Bey had been invisible up to that point but got open for a pair of 3-pointers that saw Washington answer the Cougar run in admirable fashion.
Marcus Tsohonis had no problem taking over from there. He had 6 points in the final 4 minutes on a variety of moves. Washington State went through another cold streak at the same point until they finally got a 3-point shot to go down which still meant the Huskies went into halftime up double digits at 36-26. Although there was concern when on the final possession of the half Tsohonis got bumped going for a rebound and was gimpy walking into the locker room. That was truly worrying as Tsohonis led all scorers with 16 points at the break.
It didn’t look like his leg was bothering him much coming out of the break as he hit a ridiculously tough fade away long 2-pointer that extended the Husky advantage to 42-28 with 18 minutes remaining. From there though Washington’s offense fell apart. It looked like whatever magic potion Marcus took had worn off as he started missing all of those runners and floaters that were going in during the first half.
Shortly after Tsohonis’ jumper, Erik Stevenson got fouled and made 1 of 2 free throws with 16:40 left. That would be it for UW’s scoring until a Marcus Tsohonis 3-pointer more than 8 minutes later. Washington State used that time to go on a 13-0 run and take the lead before Tsohonis’ 3 gave it right back to the Huskies at 46-45.
The teams kept pace with one another as a Ryan Rapp 3-pointer tied the game back at 51-51. Finally, the Husky defense was able to get some stops accompanied by makes at the other end. Stevenson and Tsohonis combined for a 6-0 run as they enticed a goaltending from Efe Agobidi and made a couple other shots in the paint. After a WSU basket Nate Roberts was fouled going for a putback attempt but surprisingly made both free throws to keep the margin at 6.
Almost instantly Hameir Wright fouled Noah Williams driving to the basket for his 5th and he exited the game while WSU cut the lead to 4. On the next WSU possession a missed 3-pointer went off Erik Stevenson out of bounds and after a reset the next shot did not miss and the Cougars cut it to 1 at 59-58 with 1:20 remaining. Stevenson stayed aggressive though and got to the rim while being fouled and made both to extend the UW lead back out to 3.
From there the refs and Nate Roberts got weird. Roberts secured an off-balance rebound and fell to the floor and was called out of bounds despite replay showing he clearly never touched the baseline. On the ensuing defensive possession Roberts committed his 4th foul and the Cougars missed their first free throw of the night to make it 61-60. As Washington tried to beat WSU’s full court press the ball found its way into Roberts’ hands who was immediately fouled and made just 1/2 to push it to 62-59 with 0:26 left. The Cougars missed a game tying 3 but Tsohonis was called for a loose ball foul on a jump ball long rebound and Williams made both to bring it to 62-61.
After Erik Stevenson had to take a timeout when he couldn’t find anyone open on the inbounds he eventually got it in to Jamal Bey who was fouled and made just 1 of 2 keeping the door open for Washington State. Once again Noah Williams just went downhill and the layup fell for him to tie the game at 63 with 10 seconds left. Washington without any timeouts got the ball quickly to Marcus Tsohonis who dribbled the entire length of the court, pulled up from 10 feet out, put up the floater and got it to go. Noah Williams’ half court heave was wildly off and the Huskeis took home the 65-63 win.
It was a career high 29 points on 13/20 shooting for Marcus Tsohonis who has now scored 51 points in his last 3 halves of basketball. Erik Stevenson took on distribution duty with Quade out as he finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists with several of those passes of the highlight reel variety. Jamal Bey finished 3rd in scoring with just 7 points. Noah Williams led the Cougs with 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists.
As expected the Huskies were dominated on the glass by a 41-27 margin but still managed to pull out the win largely because of how well they took care of the ball. Washington had a season low 6 turnovers and that 19-6 edge evened out the rebounding. Still, the Dawgs very nearly blew it at the free throw line. Washington was just 8/14 from the stripe while the Cougars shot 17/18.
Washington will return to the court on Thursday night when they host Stanford at 8p on FS1.