The ASU men's basketball team traveled to Pullman, Washington to try for its first three-game win streak of the season and to gain momentum heading into the final stretch of the regular season.
Instead, the Sun Devils (13-15, 6-9 Pac-12) could not stand up to that pressure, blowing their lead over Washington State the same way they did in Tempe last month and losing to the Cougars 86-71 Saturday afternoon.
Both offenses came out firing, shooting over 50 percent from the field in the first half, but mistakes by the Cougars put them behind the eight ball.
Similar to the game between these teams in Tempe, the Sun Devils took a lead into halftime. And just like last time, the Cougars came out firing.
Washington State started the second half on a 10-3 run and took the lead away from the Sun Devils. But ASU held on for a while, grabbing back and maintaining a small lead for a majority of the half.
In a back-and-forth second half, senior guard Torian Graham hit a 3-pointer to put ASU up 69-65 with 7:41 to go in the game. Nearly six minutes went by until ASU scored another point, but by then it was all over for the visitors, as the Cougars finished on a 21-2 run following Graham's shot.
The biggest change from the game in Tempe to the one in Pullman was the availability of redshirt senior center Conor Clifford, who sat a majority of the first meeting with foul trouble. He had no such problems Saturday, scoring 19 points and grabbing four rebounds for the Cougars.
Coupled with senior forward Josh Hawkinson's 54th career double-double, the Washington State interior caused ASU trouble all day long, wearing down ASU's defense.
For the Sun Devils, the remaining schedule is not one to be taken lightly. The Sun Devils are visited by No. 6 UCLA, USC and No. 5 Arizona before the Pac-12 Tournament, needing at least one win to possibly snatch the seventh seed from the Cougars and fellow 6-9 Colorado.
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