WSU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams continued to roll through the beginning of the season with the men’s team going 2-0 and the women’s winning their sole game in the Battle of the Palouse.
Men’s Basketball (2-0)
The men’s team kicked off week two with their biggest regular season test in a long time, hosting UCSB. The Gauchos were an NCAA Tournament team last year and came within two points of upsetting the five seeded Creighton Bluejays in the round of 64.
The Cougs didn’t disappoint the home faithful. Despite WSU’s poor shooting from three (12.5%), the Cougs led by as many as 22 in the first half. Led by Abogidi’s 18 points, eight rebounds and six blocks, WSU would beat UCSB 73-65 but the scoreboard didn’t reflect how dominant WSU was in this one. Kyle Smith’s team seem to let their foot off the gas following the final media timeout with four minutes to go in the game. The 16 point lead with five minutes was cut in half at the final buzzer, thanks in part to a deep desperation three with two seconds to go from UCSB.
The Cougs would end week two with the longest continued rivalry in college basketball against the Idaho Vandals. It would be the first time the two would meet in Idaho’s brand new ICCU Arena and the Cougs would make ICCU Arena history. A 48 point blowout win over the Vandals and the Cougs first 100 point game since 2018 led to the Cougs 109-61 destruction of Idaho.
Overall thoughts on Week Two
The Cougs did exactly what they needed to and some in week two. They had their first opportunity to prove themselves against a top-100 KenPom opponent and cruised right through them. While they did let their foot off the gas, anybody who watched that game knew WSU had it in control for nearly the entire 40 minutes. They then went on to absolutely dismantle a far inferior team Idaho. While the Cougs were expected to blow out Idaho, a 48 point blowout is more than double the expectations people had for WSU.
This weeks MVP, Pac-12 Freshman of the Week Mouhamed Gueye. Eight points and nine rebounds against UCSB and 13 points and six rebounds in a dominant post performance against Idaho earned the young center from Senegal his first Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honor.
I’d also like to give an honorable mention to Ryan Rapp for his explosive 12 points off the bench in the final minutes against Idaho that had Coug fans going crazy in ICCU Arena.
Next up: Week Three
Two home games against two different Eagles in what should be a pretty empty Beasley Coliseum with students at home for Thanksgiving Break. Another test against a fine Winthrop team that has struggled to start the season to open the week on Monday night followed by a visit from the nearby Eastern Washington Eagles. Eastern Washington, who made an NCAA tournament appearance last year, lost the Groves brothers, Tanner and Jacob, to the Oklahoma Sooners as well as head coach Shantay Legans to Portland this offseason. Winthrop comes into Monday night ranked 177 and Eastern Washington at 247 in the KenPom rankings.
Women’s Basketball (1-0)
It was a long week of practice before their Thanksgiving week trip to the Bahama’s for Kamie Ethridge’s group. But first, they needed to make a stop at the University of Idaho to get their own look at the new ICCU Arena. It was another slow start for WSU with the Cougs trailing the Vandals 33-32 at half. Johanna Teder would catch fire in the 3rd Quarter for WSU in her season debut, hitting a pair of threes mid-way through the quarter that sparked a 17-5 run for the Cougs who would pull away late and win 73-59. Three Cougs with 12 points: Charlisse, Wallack and Murekatete and Teder had 13.
Overall Thoughts on Week Three
The addition of sharpshooter Johanna Teder will help bolster the depth of WSU and will hopefully help the slower offensive starts WSU has had to endure in the first three games of the season. Seven first-quarter turnovers by WSU against Idaho has been a true indicator of how this season has started. Early shooting and turnover struggles but a solid second half to help pull away from an inferior opponent.
The games MVP, Johanna Teder. Her 3-point shooting helped spark WSU’s run to finish off the Vandals. Nine of her 13 points came from behind the arc and she also added another five rebounds to the box score.
Next Up: Baha Mar Pink Flamingo Championship
The Cougs will spend week three down in the much warmer Bahama’s. While they should soak up the sun as much as they can before returning to the cold Palouse, they’ll need to be prepared for their first real tests of the season. They’ll open up against Miami. The Hurricanes have been a consistent member of the NCAA tournament until missing out last season. They’re off to a 4-0 start with three double digit wins. After Miami, they will see the fifth best team in the nation, the NC State Wolfpack. The Wolfpack fell to No. 1 South Carolina 66-57 to open the year before rattling off four straight wins against some much weaker opponents.