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Wazzu pulls away from Santa Clara for NIT win

Sportsnaut
Mar 3, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Kyle Smith reacts after a play against the Oregon State Beavers in the first half at Friel Court at Beasley Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Tyrell Roberts scored 23 points, making a season-high seven 3-pointers, as Washington State defeated Santa Clara 63-50 Tuesday night in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament in Pullman, Wash.

Efe Abogidi added 13 points for the Cougars (20-14), who were making their first postseason appearance since 2011. Washington State will meet the winner of Wednesday’s game between SMU and Nicholls State in the next round.

Roberts, a 5-foot-11 guard who transferred from UC San Diego, where he was an NCAA Division II All-America selection, also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

Josep Vrankic and Jalen Wiiliams led Santa Clara (21-12) with 19 points apiece. Vrankic shot 7 of 13 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds. Williams led the Broncos with 15 rebounds and four assists.

Santa Clara, which finished the regular season 31st in NCAA Division I in scoring at 78.1 points per game, was held to a season-low point total. The Broncos shot 18 of 60 (30 percent) from the field and were just 3 of 23 (13 percent) on 3-point attempts.

Washington State led 27-23 after a tight first half, then used a 9-0 spurt early in the second to extend its advantage to 37-25 with 15:27 remaining. Michael Flowers made a 3-pointer and two free throws during the run. The Broncos never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.

Vrankic scored Santa Clara’s first seven points to keep the Broncos in the game early.

Roberts made a 3-pointer with 6:45 left before the intermission to give the Cougars a 19-17 lead. He hit another 3-pointer on Washington State’s next possession to make it 22-17, the largest advantage for either team in a half that had five ties and six lead changes.

Washington State shot 22 of 64 (34.4 percent) from the field and was 10 of 29 (34.5 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc. The Cougars had a 13-2 edge in points off turnovers, as Santa Clara had 12 giveaways while Washington State had just eight.

–Field Level Media