Huskies lose thriller in Pullman

Despite a career effort by sophomore Doug Wrenn, the Washington Huskies lost a heartbreaker in the waning moments tonight at Friel Court in Pullman, as Washington State prevailed 81-79.

Wrenn went 15-29 en route to 34 points in 36 minutes of play, but it was not enough to keep WSU from taking the win.

A last-second put back by freshman Will Conroy came just after the buzzer sounded.

The victory by the Cougars broke a 12-game losing skid and also gave WSU their first league win.

"We knew that, given the talents and strengths of the players on their team that they were capable of doing those things," Washington Head Coach Bob Bender said after the game. "Marcus (Moore) is incredibly gifted with the ball. Mike Bush has always been a guy that slashes and gets to the bucket. And Jerry McNair showed a different part of his game tonight. Most people defend him as a 3-point shooter." Moore led all the Cougar scorers with 28 points, while McNair went for 20.

The game got off to a hot start, with threes by both Curtis Allen and Marcus Moore. Then things settled down to a decent tempo, accentuated by a thunderous jam by Wrenn after a nice steal to make things 7-7.

Some chipiness then ensued, with Mike Bush saddled for a technical foul after a foul on Erroll Knight by J Locklier. That was the beginning of an 11-2 run that put the Dawgs up 18-7.

Mike Bush answered the Huskies' run with a deep three, and then the two teams exchanged baskets, culminating in two straight inside scores by David Dixon to put the Dawgs' lead at 8, 26-18.

The Cougs were not going to be blown out that easily, and led by the back-to-back threes of junior college transfer Justin Lyman, Washington State pulled ahead by one, 33-32 with 7 minutes left.

Then, as quickly as the teams started out, the both fizzled, big time. Washington State went on a dry run of nearly three minutes, while the Huskies went cold for over 4. One of the key plays in the first half was the calling of double fouls on Erroll Knight and Lyman while Curtis Allen was apparently fouled while attempting a three. Bob Bender argued in vain for the three shots for Allen, but lost the battle and the possession went to the Cougars.

The Dawgs finished the half outscoring the Cougars 6-4 during the final 2:30 of the half to go in the locker room up by one.

The second half saw no major offensive lapses by either club as they see-sawed their way quickly through the rest of the game. Wrenn went nuts in the second half, going for 22 while Moore was the Cougs' sharpshooter for the period, going for 20.

McNair was the catalyst with 6:12 left, as he went baseline for a sweet underhand reverse scoop that brought the Cougs and Dawgs tied at 64. Then Wrenn traveled, which brought the house down. Moore went baseline again off the glass to give Washington State a two-point cushion.

"I think we got tired," Bender said of his team's inability to stop the Cougars' penetration. "Our lack of being able to force turnovers was big but we also couldn't stop their drives. We couldn't stay in front of them."

This was no more apparent than with 1:40 left in the game. Mike Bush brought the ball past the mid-court line. He looked to pass, then saw a clear path along the left side of the key. He went untouched to the bucket with a thunderous right-hand jam that had the crowd going bananas.

From that point on, the crowd of 3310 stood without interruption, forcing the Huskies to play offense under tough circumstances. Doug Wrenn went back inside to score his final points of the night on a tough inside move, a play that almost didn't happen because of a batted ball that was intended for Josh Barnard.

"We wanted Josh coming off for a three or right inside to Doug," Bender said. "The batted ball took time off the clock. We got the shot we wanted but the tipped ball changed the dynamic of that last 8 seconds."

Allen fouled Moore with three seconds left and Moore calmly put in the two free throws for an 81-78 lead. Will Conroy brought the ball up-court, went left and heaved up a three, only to be fouled by Marcus Moore with three one-hundredths left on the clock.

The freshman from Seattle calmly stroked in the first attempt, but the second one clanked off the back iron, to thunderous applause. Needing a bucket to tie, Will bounced the free throw off the rim, where it was tipped back by David Dixon to Conroy. Will put up a shot that was good, but it was waved off and mayhem ensued.

Even in defeat, Bender was effusive about the play of his leader Doug Wrenn. "He's a competitor and he's emotional," he said. "I think he's done a great job during his first full college season, especially with this much attention put on him. I think he's handled it very well. And he's also done a very good job of doing the tough things for us, sometimes the things that a scorer just won't do, like rebound the ball or defend the top scorer."

Husky Scoring: Wrenn-34, Allen-18, Day-8, Dixon-8, Knight-5, Leep-5, Conroy-1
Rebounds: Dixon-9, Leep-5, Day-4, Wrenn-3, Allen-3, Massingale-2, Barnard-1
Assists: Allen-4, Barnard-4, Wrenn-4, Massingale-2, Dixon-1, Day-1 Blocks: Dixon-7


Dixon gets an earful: At 8:06 of the second half, Dixon was charged with an offensive foul, resulting in a chorus of 'Dixon you suck' by the Cougar student section. They came back with the same cheer with a couple minutes remaining in the game.

Keep your shorts on Doug: Doug Wrenn lost the drawstring on his shorts not once, but twice during the game, also earning some jeers from the student section.

Injury report: Charles Frederick stayed home because of a bruised left knee sustained in practice. David Hudson also stayed in Seattle because of back spasms. Top Stories