No. 25 Gonzaga Holds Off WSU 54-52
Dec. 7, 2004
By Nicholas K. Geranios
The Bulldogs (6-1) came into the game averaging 83 points, but the Cougars' defense held them to 41 percent shooting for their lowest point total of the season.
Washington State (3-3) came close to an upset after losing its previous game to No. 5 Oklahoma State by 52 points. The Cougars, though, made just 19 of 58 shots from the field.
Gonzaga took a 53-50 lead after Sean Mallon made one of two free throws with 2:05 left. Robbie Cowgill's turnaround jumper cut the margin to 53-52 with 26 seconds left, and Washington State was forced to foul.
Morrison hit one of two free throws with 11.8 seconds left before Washington State's Josh Akognon's long 3-point attempt hit the front of the rim and bounced out in the final seconds. In the ensuing scramble, the Cougars put up two wild shots that never had a chance to go in the basket before time expired.
"I'll beat myself up tonight," Akognon, who had 12 points to share the scoring lead with Randy Green, said. "I'll keep going over that same play wondering what I could have done different."
WSU coach Dick Bennett had called a timeout with 11 seconds left, and said Akognon was the intended shooter on the play.
"He pulled it a little soon from quite a distance," Bennett said. "But I've seen him make that shot in practice."
Morrison wasn't surprised by the intensity of the Cougars (3-3) and a crowd of 8,151 that was the largest at Washington State for a non-conference game in nine years.
"We're marked on the West Coast, especially the Northwest," Morrison said. "That's everywhere we go."
Akognon and Randy Green led Washington State with 12 points each.
Washington State led 27-25 at the half.
Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes had a steal and layup and sank the foul shot to put Gonzaga up 36-33 with 13:58 left in the game. But Akognon's 3-pointer lifted Washington State to a 38-37 lead.
Consecutive baskets by J.P. Batista and Morrison gave Gonzaga a 43-38 lead.
Akognon's 3-pointer and Jeff Varem's layup cut Washington State's deficit to 48-47 with 3:50 left.
Akognon's 3-pointer gave Washington State a 50-49 lead, but Derek Raivio replied with a 3-pointer to put Gonzaga ahead 52-50.
Gonzaga has won six straight against Washington State. Two years ago, Gonzaga needed overtime to win in Pullman, 110-104.
"He'll be examined by the doctors on Wednesday," Few said. "But right now it doesn't look good. He was hurting."
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