Second Half Warrior Push Dooms Cougars, 73-63
With the loss, USF falls to 7-10, 3-10 in conference play, while WSU improves to 17-3 and 11-2 within the NSIC.
Things couldn't have looked more up for USF in the first half. Not only did they contain a very large and athletic WSU frontcourt, but they won the battle down low, most of which was due to the play of James Rader.
Rader imposed his will early, scoring the game's first six points which helped the Cougars reach a 7-0 advantage at the 17:29 mark of the first half.
Behind 12 first half points by Rader, USF made it an emphasis to attack the basket and good things happened. The Cougars outrebounded and outchanced the Warriors at the charity stripe to own a 34-26 lead at the break, their second-largest first half lead in conference play this season.
The second half was very different. WSU came out aggressive, first recording a 12-5 run between the start of the half and the 12:54 mark to claim their first lead of the game. Kellen Taylor's free throws provided the visiting team a 41-39 margin, which they would not relinquish.
Taylor's makes at the line sparked a 17-4 Warrior run, one that quickly put the game out of reach for the Cougars, as the Warriors went ahead 56-43 with 5:51 to play. The visiting team would stretch their lead to as many as 15 points on two separate occasions before recording the final score.
After just five first half turnovers, USF coughed up the rock eight times in the final period, leading to 10 WSU second half points.
An ongoing issue, the Cougars gave their opponent too many free shots tonight. WSU finished 24-of-29 at the line, compared to 15-of-20 shooting by USF.
Each team finished with three players in double figure scoring. Xavier Humphrey recorded a game-high 20 points, while Taylor Cameron chipped in 19 for the Warriors. Zander Culver charted 10 points for WSU.
For the home team, A.J. Holland posted 18 points, going 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Rader was the Cougars' second-highest scorer with 16 on the night. Next in line was Derek Brown, who added 10 points for USF.
The Cougars host the Peacocks of Upper Iowa University tomorrow at 6 p.m.