Washington State rallies to beat San Diego State in Wooden final
By Lou Ponsi
FULLERTON – Washington State’s path to the championship game of the Wooden Legacy Tournament at Cal State Fullerton on Sunday wasn’t easy.
And it didn’t get any easier for the Cougars in the title game against San Diego State.
The Cougars had to contend with pro-San Diego State crowd in Titan Gym and still came from nine points down in the second half to defeat the Aztecs 93-86.
Malachi Flynn scored a game-high 24 to lead the Cougars (6-1), who went 3-0 in the tournament.
The Cougars also hit 13 3-pointers and were 22 of 25 from the free throw line.
Devin Watson scored 23 to lead the Aztecs (5-1), who went 2-1 in the tournament.
“It’s a long time coming,” Washington State Coach Ernie Kent said of the tournament championship. “I’m happy for these guys. They’re not just great players. They are a great group of guys.”
In their opening round game on Thursday, The Cougars came from 20 points down to defeat St. Joseph’s, 75-71.
On Friday, the Cougars defeated No.21 St. Mary’s, 84-79, to reach the championship game.
“It’s really forced us to grow up, during the course of the tournament and during the course of the (championship) game,” Kent said.
Forward Malik Pope, the Aztecs’ top scorer, was battling a gastrointestinal issue and was sidelined after just 14 minutes.
Matt Mitchell’s 3-pointer from NBA range gave the Aztecs a 73-64 lead with 8:25 left.
But just when it looked as though the Aztecs were on the verge of running away with it, the Cougars displayed some 3-point shooting of their own.
A pair of 3-pointers from Viont’e Daniels and three from Flynn keyed a 14-4 run for the Cougars, who took a 78-77 lead with 4:50 remaining.
With 4:05 left, Jeremy Hemsley’s jumper gave the Aztecs the lead back.
Milan Acquaah’s layup gave Washington State an 82-79 lead with 3:30 remaining […]