Second-half surge seals Wazzu’s win over Utah

Isaac Jones finished with 17 points and Washington State pulled away from Utah in the second half for a 79-57 win on Wednesday in Pullman, Wash.

Andrej Jakimovski added 14 points for the Cougars (14-6, 5-4 Pac-12), while Oscar Cluff and Jaylen Wells each netted 13. Myles Rice contributed 10 for Washington State, which got hot in the second half, sinking 60.7 percent of its shots.

On the night, hosts carved out significant advantages in second-chance points (21-4) and made free throws (16-3). Jones had a game-high 10 rebounds as the Cougars wound up with a 40-29 advantage on the glass.

Branden Carlson scored a game-best 20 points for the Utes (14-6, 5-4), while Gabe Madsen added 14. Keba Keita contributed 10 points and nine rebounds, but Utah struggled to make shots consistently. It hit only 42.4 percent from the field, including 4 of 22 (18.2 percent) from 3-point range.

Washington State sank 7 of 18 (38.9 percent) from beyond the arc.

The Utes trailed by just two points when Keita hit a jump hook with 11:05 left in the game. The Cougars then broke the game open with eight straight points, thanks largely to a pair of 3-pointers by Isaiah Watts, to take a 59-49 advantage with 9:29 remaining. That was the start of a game-ending 28-8 spurt for Washington State.

The main storyline in the first half was a lengthy dry spell that left Utah chasing the game most of the night. After the Utes grabbed a 10-8 edge just over five minutes in on Deivon Smith’s layup, Utah went 5:15 until getting another bucket, on Smith’s final points of the half.

Washington State scored only eight points in that stretch, but it was able to carry that lead through the remainder of the half. The Cougars made just 35.5 percent from the field before the break but used a 14-3 advantage in free-throw attempts (and a 9-2 edge in made foul shots) to stay ahead.

Jones’ free throw upped Washington State’s lead to 33-24 at the 2:26 mark before the Utes finished the half with the final six points. Keita sank a mid-range jumper with one second remaining to bring the visitors within three points at the break.