Energy in excess lifted the Cougars (13-15/6-10) over their cross-state rival Huskies (9-19/2-14) on Sunday night, Kent said. The dramatic win gave Kent a chance to describe the upward trend he'd been looking for all year.
"One day that Pac-12 championship will come through Pullman," Kent announced as he addressed the fans from the court after the win.
One year removed from last place in the Pac-12, Washington State now stands in a three-way tie with Colorado, and Stanford for eighth place. Improvement noted.
Iroegbu followed his coach by thanking the fans for his four years on the Palouse. Iroegbu and Hawkinson (pictured above) spent their entire collegiate careers at Washington State, with Callison and Clifford transferring in from junior college.
WSU trailed 64-60 with a little over five minutes to go in the game Sunday but just as the Cougs did in the first meeting vs. Washington, they finished on a run. An 11-0 spurt included Hawkinson’s dart of a 3-pointer as Beasley roared. Hawkinson scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half. The Cougs outscored the Huskies 19-7 to end the game.
"I think my dad bought 60 some tickets, maybe 80, for extended family, friends, old coaches all here to celebrate," Hawkinson said.
The senior forward would leave the court to a standing ovation, only to stop to bend down and kiss the Cougar logo on the floor, drawing a second wind to the cheers.
"I'm just glad I got to be a part of a great class of seniors, it’s a great feeling to sweep ASU and UW -- steps in the right direction," Hawkinson said.
Hawkinson prepped just north of Seattle at Shoreline High but Washington State was the only Pac-12 school to offer. WSU was also the only Pac-12 school to offer true freshmen phenom guard Malachi Flynn, who dished five assists and scored seven points in the win.
"Malachi's clutch man, these Seattle guys when they come to Wazzu they have a chip on their shoulder," Iroegbu said.
"I felt like I was overlooked too," Hawkinson said.
The Huskies led most of the game but the margin never got about seven points. Just about every time it seemed UW might be able to stretch it and put pressure on the Cougs, Callison filled up the bucket. He scored 18 points, second only to Hawkinson while snatching five steals and pulling down five rebounds.
Clifford scored in double-figures for the 12th time this season before fouling out. Kent said Clifford set the pace early with his physicality and early baskets, later creating opportunities for Callison and Hawkinson to expose Washington’s soft perimeter defense, with the Huskies minus star freshmen guard Markelle Fultz, the Pac-12 scoring leader, to a sore knee.
UP NEXT: The Cougs wrap up the regular season in Los Angeles. WSU plays at USC Wednesday, followed by UCLA on Saturday. The Pac-12 tournament begins March 8.
Hawkinson moved into 12th on the WSU career scoring list with 1,370 points, passing Joe Wallace (1984-87).
WSU dealt Washington its 10th straight loss, the longest streak in its history. UW can finish no better than 11th in the Pac-12, and now holds its worst conference record (2-14) since the early 2000’s.