Que lights up, but Cougs find new heartbreak

ERNIE KENT has talked all season about needing to find that third scorer. Que Johnson stepped into the role at Colorado, scoring a career high 25 points. But Washington State still lost a heartbreaker Thursday night in double overtime. A riled up Kent after the 88-81 loss took issue with those voicing criticism during the now 10-game losing streak.

“It’s somebody else’s problem if they think we’re ready to crack, or how do young people handle this or how do you do this. Those are people who have not put it on the line in games like this. These kids are already a success story to be in this environment. Can you imagine battling back through all those losses and to play that type of game on this floor? How about the character of those young men, and that’s how I know we have something special brewing here,” said Kent.

WSU had a chance to put the game out of reach in the first overtime period at the free throw line with eight seconds left. But Johnson missed the second attempt and Colorado hit a desperation three against solid defense by Josh Hawkinson at the buzzer to force a second overtime.  WSU could have fouled in that situation but chose not to, said Kent.

“From a coaching staff, we probably should have fouled and put them right back on the line but we just felt like Que was going to knock the free throw down,” said Kent.

Johnson was the game’s leading scorer and grabbed six rebounds. Josh Hawkinson scored 18 points and pulled down 13 boards, his 17th double-double of the season. He also had four assists.  Brett Boese was clutch, hitting 5 of 7 on the night, including three treys, and scoring 13 points.

Ny Redding had arguably the best game of his WSU career, playing a season-high 33 minutes. He finished with 7 points including a key 3-pointer and layup. He also had 4 assists and 4 rebounds.

“It was the best point guard play we’ve had in our program in terms of point guard leadership since I’ve been here,” said Kent. “That’s not any disrespect to Ike (Iroegbu) because he’s had some marvelous games. But Nye didn’t score, he handled the team. And he got the ball where it needed to be, and he defended.”

Iroegbu finished with 8 points in 35 minutes.

Kent said missed free throws (11-19) combined with missed block outs, not fronting the post well enough and giving up too many drives were the “little things" that contributed to the loss, "but you were still right there to win the game in one of the toughest environments in the country… we’ve still got a chance to be a pretty good basketball team and close out these next six games."

It got even tougher when Kent got hit with something out of the stands.

“I thought it was an excellent game up until someone started throwing stuff out the stands, I thought that was really bush,” said Kent, who said he got hit with what felt like a rock. 

Washington State plays at Utah on Saturday at 2 p.m. PT (Pac-12 Networks).  Kent implied WSU might not try to run on the Utes.

“Maybe (this game) taught us how we need to play -- maybe not so fast. We walked all up and down the floor and pound it inside, and get a little tougher and grittier on defense,” said Kent.

Conor Clifford had 6 points and 6 rebounds. Charles Callison didn’t play due to a concussion.

Colorado finished on a 9-1 run in second OT.

Washington State trailed by double figures early and by nine at the break before mounting its comeback.

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