“It’s hard to lose a game strictly on free throws,” said the big junior from Shoreline who pulled down a career high 20 rebounds and scored 21 points — including 11 from the free throw line.
An 84-percent shooter from the line, he missed five others from the stripe — the most notable of them coming with 30 seconds left in overtime that would have tied the game at 96.
He wasn’t alone.
A visibly dejected Iroegbu, who poured in a career-high 28 points, said, “I cant worry about what’s in the past and just look forward” when asked about missing one of his two free-throw attempts with 18 seconds left in regulation. He missed the first, but made the second to tie the game at 87 and ultimately send the contest to overtime.
Callison missed 2 of 4 free throws in OT and Renard Suggs missed the first of two with 1:21 left in regulation.
The list goes on. The Cougars shot just 62.2 percent from the line (23 of 37) to the Huskies’ 76.7 percent (23 of 30).
“We’re normally a pretty good free-throwing shooting team so it’s pretty frustrating,” Hawkinson said.
The Cougars came into the game hitting a solid 72 percent of their free throws.
Of course, Hawkinson’s lament that the game was lost strictly on poor free-throw shooting camouflages the biggest shortcoming of the day: failure to stop the slashing, dashing and long balls of Husky guards Andrew Andrews and Dejounte Murray. The two combined for 54 points, 14 rebounds, 14 assists and 4 steals.
Hawkinson noted Andrews’ uncanny ability to “drive the lane and force contact and draw fouls.” Indeed, Andrews went to the line 17 times, connecting on 13. He hit 4 of 6 in overtime.
“We really tried to get Andrew Andrews out of the game,” said Callison, when asked about Cougar guards driving the lane in OT. Andrews picked up his fourth foul with 3:35 left in OT but he never fouled out. Three other Huskies did, as did WSU’s Suggs.
Cougar coach Ernie Kent said the roar of the crowd helped fuel the Cougars’ furious comeback from 10 points downs with 4:24 left in regulation. He said the atmosphere of the game was “just absolutely fantastic … that’s how important it is to have that crowd there.”
But there was no escaping the missed opportunities at the charity stripe.
“The game came down, literally came down — in a heavyweight match — to free-throw shooting. They missed six (for the game), we missed 14, and there was the difference in the game,” Kent said.
“It was just a really competitive, good game between two rival schools,” said Kent, who lauded the play of Iroegbu, Hawkinson, Suggs and Brett Boese.
Kent pointed out that the Cougars aren’t a bad free-throw shooting team … “we just missed ‘em in this game.” He thought fatigue — the Huskies put on the jets for much of the game — may have had something to do with the late misses. See video below for his complete post-game remarks.
The Cougars it the road to Arizona State on Thursday (5 pm PT) and Arizona on Saturday (6:30 pm PT. Both games will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
* Center Valentine Izundu didn’t suit up and Kent said he is “week to week” but didn’t offer details. He added it would have been nice to have the shot-blocking 7-footer but it would have been even better if Que Johnson and Derrien King were "on their games." Johnson played just 11 minutes and King 3.-
* The Cougars are now 9-6 overall and 1-2 in Pac-12 play while the Huskies are 11-4 and 3-0.
* Hawkinson took sole possession of the WSU record for consecutive games with a double-double as he had his 10th-straight. Hawkinson added 3 blocked shots and 2 steals.
* Suggs had his second-straight game with double-figure points, finishing
with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting.
* Callison had his second-straight double-figure scoring game, finishing with
14 points and a team-best 5 assists.
* Junior center Conor Clifford finished with 11 points, marks his second-straight game with double-figure scoring. He had 9 in the first half.
* Boese played a season-high 24 minutes, finishing with 6 points with a perfect 2-for-2 from the field (both 3-pointers).
* Junior Longrus blocked a career-high 4 shots.
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