TUCSON, Ariz. — Roars from Washington State’s locker room echoed through the hallways beneath the stands at McCall Center.
An understandable celebration after the Cougars sent Arizona fans into an early exit with a win over a top-5 opponent in 122 years of basketball.
Playing with confidence in one of college basketball’s toughest road arenas, Washington State ended No. 5 Arizona’s 28-game home streak with a 74-61 victory on Saturday.
“You’re no different than the players — you have to dream to make it come true,” the Washington State coach said. Kyle Smith After his first win in three tries at the McCall Center. “You start thinking about quieting the crowd, and you get possessed in your mind. I looked up and saw people filing in with 1:12 left, and I was just focused, focused, a lot of things could happen. I was able to hold on.”
The Cougars (7-10, 2-4 Pac-12) shut down Arizona’s once-powerful offense, creating a rare, subdued atmosphere inside the McCauley Center.
Washington State built an 18-point lead midway through the second half, withstood Arizona’s late run and played physical defense all afternoon to go on the nation’s third-longest hitting streak.
“Our guys came together, put in a tremendous effort, played really hard and played right to the final buzzer,” Smith said after Washington State’s first win over a top-5 team since 1983.
The Wildcats (14-2, 3-2) struggled offensively for the third straight game, shooting 32% and 4 for 25 from the 3-point arc. Arizona scored its fewest halftime points (27) in two seasons under coach Tommy Lloyd and ran out of gas after a late 12-2 run that cut the Cougars’ lead to five.
Azuolas Tubelis Arizona had 29 points and 14 rebounds.
“Today in Macaulay has the opportunity to be a special day, and it is for the state of Washington,” Lloyd said.
Once the nation’s top-scoring and best-shooting team, the Wildcats rode their defense to victory over Arizona State and Washington.
The Wildcats weren’t great defensively, allowing Washington State to shoot 7 of 15 from 3 in the first half. DJ BombaA 3 at the halftime buzzer put the Quirks up 37-27.
“It’s not confidence — we just had a bad day and missed shots,” Dubelis said.
Washington pushed the lead to 55-37 midway through the second half, hitting shots every time Arizona tried to make a run. The Wildcats finally got the crowd on its feet with a 12-2 run to pull within 61-56, but that turned out to be their last gasp.
Bamba hit a contested layup over 7-foot-1 Umar Ballo A short jumper later helps push Washington State’s lead back to double digits — and Wildcats’ fans to the exits.
“They were able to put together a game plan that worked for them early on and it gave them some confidence,” Lloyd said. “We got into an early hole and deserved the result we got.”
Washington State arrives in the desert as the Pac-12’s best 3-point shooting team. The Cougars were good again from the arc and played super defense.
Arizona needs to find a way to revitalize its offense. The Wildcats, who once scored more than 90 points per game, have failed to score 70 in three straight games since the non-conference schedule ended. A drop in the AP Top 25 comes on Monday.
Kerr crisis The key to setting up Arizona’s offense, so Smith decided to put the rangy Bomba guard at Arizona’s point guard and disrupt him.
It worked well for the Cougars. Griza was limited to three assists from 3 — 2 of 11 — 3 for 13.
“You don’t usually have that kind of person [guarding] And as a point guard, you’re like, ‘Whoa,'” Smith said. “If anything, the physicality might have re-adjusted them because he’s transitioning and getting him going in the half court.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.