Washington State can't keep Texas A&M at bay, falls 72-56 in NIT semis to end season
Washington State turnovers and a red-hot shooting performance in the second half from Texas A&M were enough to lift the Aggies over the Cougars at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night in the second semifinal game of the NIT. Washington State saw a special season come to a close with a 72-56 loss.
For the game, the Cougars shot just 35% from the field. Tyrell Roberts led the way in the scoring department with 14 points, but it took him getting up 14 shots (3-of-9 from 3) to reach those 14 points.
After a 27-point explosion in the team’s quarterfinal win over BYU, Michael Flowers was ice-cold. He finished with just five points on 2-of-12 shooting and was held without a make from beyond the arc.
The larger issue for the Cougs was the other end of the floor. Not a particularly great shooting team throughout the regular season, Washington State made its name with hard-nosed defense. Texas A&M attacked that defense again and again and again.
Of the 40 second-half points the Aggies scored, 35 of them came either in the painted area or from the foul line. A&M opened the second half with makes on 18 of its first 25 shot attempts to go up as many as 25 points.
Washington State didn’t help itself much, though. The Cougs committed 17 turnovers in the game, giveaways that led to 25 A&M points.
The season ends at 22-15 for Washington State. The 22 wins are tied for the most in a season since the 2007-08 squad went 26-9. That was also Wazzu’s last NCAA Tournament team.
This Cougar squad, led by coach Kyle Smith, flirted briefly with the tournament bubble later on in the season but never really broke its way into the conversation. Still, they were the last team from the Pac-12 still playing basketball games, and that’s got to count for something.
Smith will look to keep the momentum going from what was a deep postseason run at the NIT and carry it over into next season.