Win over USC lets Kent say Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

THE SCOREBOARD SAYS Washington State defeated the USC by 70-66, and so yes, it's a victory, a road victory at that. Yet the Cougars had a chance for a runaway, but instead, had to fight off a determined USC team looking to win its third Pacific-12 games of the season. USC whittled a 19-point WSU lead to three points, something Ernie Kent says he's seen before in 30 years of coaching.

“Their style is they played relentless, they keep coming at you, you just can’t relax,” Kent said. “I’ve seen this again in 30 years of coaching where a team builds a big lead on a visiting team’s floor and then they make the run, and come back into the game and almost have a chance to get it from you. The bottom line is we kept our composure down the stretch, we won the game. We knocked down free throws, we made a couple coaching mistakes.”

Kent said that one of those coaching mistakes was not knowing senior center Jordan Railey’s foul situation.

However, the game's biggest play came with 17 seconds left. Junior forward Junior Longrus sank his first free throw to extend the Cougars lead to four points. Longrus missed the second try, but beat two USC players to the ball and got the offensive rebound. It gave the Cougars another chance to extend their lead and end the game.

“I cannot be more pleased and thrilled and happy for a guy like him because all he does is come to work everyday,” Kent said. “He’s got the biggest voice in the locker room in terms of leading these guys, he has tremendous character within him, so I’m happy he had an opportunity to contribute in such a positive way.”

Longrus had five points and six rebounds.

The Cougars (12-15, 6-9) got rolling early against the Trojans, thanks to senior guard Dexter Kernich-Drew. During the first 12 minutes, the Australian native scored 13 points. Kenrich-Drew finished with a team-high 19 points, shooting 7 of 11 from the floor, and 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

“His mom and his sister are all the way here from Australia, so it gives me my line to be able to make as I looked at them in the lobby, there was Aussie, Aussie, Aussie,” Kent said. “That’s a good thing because I’m happy that they came to see him play.”

Kent added that Kernich-Drew’s mom was impressed with the way her son performed in the last three games.

Kernich-Drew is averaging 15 points in the last three games.

The Cougars play their final regular season road game at 6:30 p.m. Sunday against UCLA. The game is televised on Fox Sports 1.

“I thought they did a good job though of fighting through the adversity in the game, losing leads, turning it over a bit too much, Jordan fouling out, couple of bone head decisions down the stretch by everybody and yet we were able to get it done,” Kent said. “So that’s the most important thing: get the win, get back to Pullman, get back to class tomorrow, and Friday, regroup, comeback down here on Saturday and hopefully just give a great effort against the Bruins.”

  • Starting lineup included: Ike Iroegbu, DaVonte Lacy, Dexter Kernich-Drew, Josh Hawkinson, Jordan Railey.

  • Hawkinson finished the night with 11 points and 13 rebounds, his 17th double-double of the season. He tied the school record for double-doubles in a season.

  • The Cougars have now doubled their Pac-12 wins from last season.

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