Washington State signs Kyle Smith to extension through 2026-27

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State signed coach Kyle Smith to a contract extension Thursday that goes through the 2026-27 season and adds two years to the original contract he was given when he was hired.

Smith was brought in as the replacement for Ernie Kent in March 2019 and quickly brought optimism back to the Cougars program. Washington State has finished .500 or above in each of Smith’s first two seasons. The only other coach to accomplish that in Washington State history was Tony Bennett.

“The rebirth in our men’s basketball program since Kyle arrived two years ago has been remarkable,” athletic director Pat Chun said. “Kyle’s ability to attract and develop top talent has revitalized not only our men’s basketball program, but our fan base as well. The future of Cougar basketball is in good hands under Kyle’s leadership and we are excited he will be a Cougar for many years to come.”

Washington State went 16-16 in Smith’s first season in 2019-20 and last season went 14-13. Smith has also brought an influx of talent to Pullman, Washington, with a pair of recruiting classes ranked in the top 60 nationally.

Before moving to the Palouse, Smith spent three seasons as the head coach at San Francisco, where he compiled a record of 63-40.

Tsineke leads South Florida past Washington State 57-53

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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AUSTIN, Texas — Elena Tsineke scored 18 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:32 remaining, to help South Florida to a 57-53 win over Washington State in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.

Tsineke’s driving shot, which came soon after a 3-pointer by Washington State’s Charlisse Leger-Walker, gave the eighth-seeded Bulls (19-3) a 54-53 lead.

“The season is about to end,” Tsineke said. “You have to get something out of it.”

The ninth-seeded Cougars (12-12) had several chances to overtake South Florida, but Leger-Walker missed two driving shots and was called for traveling, all during the final 1:07. The Bulls hit free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

“They just made a couple more game winning plays at the end,” Washington State coach Kamie Ethridge said. “We didn’t quite make enough shots tonight to get ourselves a win.”

Leger-Walker, an all-Pac-12 selection and the league’s freshman of the year, matched Tsineke’s 18 points but converted only 4 of 18 field goal attempts, including 2 of 10 3-pointers.

Johanna Teder supported Leger-Walker with 16 points.

South Florida converted 11 of 16 shots in the second quarter – including its first six – to take a 38-29 halftime lead. The Bulls needed that boost because they hit 5 of 21 shots in the first quarter.

Tsineke finished the half with 12 points. Leger-Walker scored 11 in the half but was less efficient than Tsineke.

Leger-Walker, well guarded by South Florida, hit 2 of 8 shots but made all six of her free throws.

Washington State pulled even by the end of the third quarter, not by shooting well but by limiting South Florida to three baskets and seven points.

“You’re up nine and we knew they weren’t going to go away,” South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said. “That team right there has had some really good wins in Pac-12 play. They’ve been in wars.”

GRATIFICATION DELAYED

South Florida extended a season that included a long delay. The Bulls earned their NCAA invitation by winning the American Athletic Conference tournament for the first time in the school’s history. The Bulls were on pause for the coronavirus for a month spanning January and early February.

BEEN A WHILE

Washington State didn’t last long in the tournament after waiting 30 years between trips. The Cougars made it with a pedestrian 12-11 record. But that record included four big Pac-12 wins over UCLA, Arizona and Oregon State twice, elevating Washington State to the No. 45 spot in the NCAA Net ratings. The four wins were by a total of 14 points.

UP NEXT

South Florida faces North Carolina State, seeded No. 1 in the region on Tuesday. The Wolfpack defeated North Carolina A&T Sunday 79-58.

Freshmen aim to make a big impact in women’s NCAA Tournament

Paige Bueckers controls the ball
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
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Louisville coach Jeff Walz got a preview two years ago of just how good the current national crop of freshmen were going to be once they started their college careers.

Walz coached the United States to a gold medal in the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup with an undefeated squad that included included Paige Bueckers (UConn), Caitlin Clark (Iowa), Cameron Brink (Stanford) and Haily Van Lith (Louisville).

“They were all just terrible players until I had a chance to coach them up,” he joked. “But seriously, they competed with each other, against each other. They’ve all had such good experience and international experience and played at a high level that they’ve been able to come into college and be impact players right away.”

A look at some of the freshmen expected to have an impact on March Madness.

PAIGE BUECKERS (UConn)

The the Big East’s player of the year and national player of the year candidate has received the most attention of the talented freshman class, averaging 19.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.3 steals. She is one of only three freshman to be named a first-team AP All-American.

She is shooting 54% from the floor and and 47.4% from 3-point range.

One of three freshmen who see significant playing time for the Huskies (post Aaliyah Edwards and guard Nika Muhl are the others), she’s already has hit game-clinching shots against rival Tennessee and South Carolina.

“Listen, I’m not boasting. But if I talked to every single coach in America and they told you, they’d rather have their freshmen than Paige, I would tell you they’re only saying that to be nice to their own players,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “Because there’s things that they’ve seen Paige do that no other freshmen can do.”

UConn opens against High Point on Sunday.

CAITLIN CLARK (Iowa)

Iowa’s star led the Hawkeyes to the Big Ten title game and led the nation in scoring at 26.7 points per game.

Clark, who has hit 103 shots from 3-point range, said confidence and playing on a big stage have never been a problem.

“I think I’ve always kind of had that,” she said. That’s always been a part of my game. But I think my teammates have definitely helped as well. They’ve kind of given me the keys and shown that they trust me and I trust them as well.”

The Hawkeyes are a No. 5 seed and will take on Central Michigan on Sunday.

HAILEY VAN LITH & OLIVIA COCHRAN (Louisville)

Walz’s freshmen duo are both scoring about 11 points per game.

They each rank in the top six in both scoring and rebounding among freshmen in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Van Lith has three 20-point games this season and Cochran has put up four double-doubles.

“They’ve done a remarkable job of coming in right away and having an immediate impact on our program,” Walz said. “And for us, that was a must. We needed for them to have that kind of impact.”

The No. 2 seed Cardinals take on Marist on Monday.

TE-HINA PAOPAO (Oregon)

In this case, the absence of a freshman may have an impact on the tournament.

The Duck’s point guard, an all Pac-12 selection, averaged 10.2 points and 4.4 assists in her 19 starts, but suffered a right foot injury in late February and has been sidelined since.

“If we can somehow get her back, by the grace of God, what a lift that would be,” coach Kelly Graves said Monday. “But I don’t anticipate it will be this first weekend.”

The sixth-seeded Ducks, who have lost four of their last five games, take on South Dakota on Monday.

CHARLISSE LEGER-WALKER (Washington State)

Leger-Walker led her team to its first NCAA Tournament in 30 years, averaging just under 19 points per game.

The native of New Zealand scored 20 or more points 12 times this season, more than any other player in the league.

“It’s been a great first season, for me personally and for the team,” she said after being named the Pac-12 freshman of the year. “A lot of learning curves and a lot of successes along the way. A lot of history this year as well, and it’s been really cool to be a part of.”

The ninth-seed Cougars face South Florida on Sunday.

CAMERON BRINK (Stanford)

Brink has been a force for the Cardinal in the paint, averaging 10.2 points a game while shooting 58.2% from the field. She’s also blocked 64 shots.

She’s scored 24 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked four shots in the team’s Pac-12 semifinal win over Oregon State, helping the Cardinal to a 14th league title.

“She’s a lot better than she was in November,” coach Tara VanDerveer said. ‘Seh didn’t get a summer to be on campus to train and work out. She learned our offense on Zoom. It took her a while to get the flow of things. She’s doing terrific.”

The top-seeded Cardinal take on Utah Valley on Sunday.

Arizona beats No. 17 USC 81-72, ends Trojans’ win streak

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES — In a season that’s coming to a quick close for Arizona, the Wildcats finally had reason to celebrate.

James Akinjo scored 20 points and Arizona was better on the boards, knocking off No. 17 Southern California 81-72 on Saturday and ending the Pac-12-leading Trojans’ seven-game winning streak.

“It showed we’re a good team and can beat anybody right now,” Akinjo said.

It was the Wildcats’ biggest win of the season. They won’t be playing into March, after the school imposed a postseason ban that will keep them out of the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments.

“We’re playing for each other. We’re playing for our program, the pride and the love for the game,” Wildcats coach Sean Miller said. “If we can beat some of these teams down the stretch, it gives us something to feel good about.”

Jordan Brown had 19 points and 13 rebounds. Azuolas Tubelis added 16 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for the Wildcats (15-8, 9-8 Pac-12), who gave Miller his 300th victory in program history while avoiding their first three-game skid of the season.

“We’ve been in some really tough games recently and just weren’t good enough to leave with a victory,” Miller said. “Tonight, we were able to go from start to finish. It says a lot about our group of guys that they continue to fight.”

The Wildcats controlled the boards, 43-36. They have been outrebounded just once this season. The Trojans haven’t won when they’ve been beaten on the boards.

“They’re just as big as us and another top rebounding team,” USC’s Evan Mobley said. “A lot of times we’d go up and tip around and other guys would come down with the rebound.”

Mobley scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half for the Trojans (18-4, 12-3), and Tahj Eaddy added 17 points before fouling out.

“I don’t think entirely we played soft, but in certain possessions we weren’t as tough as we could have been, especially to start the game,” Eaddy said. “They got too many offensive rebounds that gave them confidence and allowed the momentum to carry throughout the game.”

The Trojans played from behind most of the game, trailing by eight in the first half when Mobley had just four points and no rebounds. The standout freshman scored 10 straight points to open the second half, pulling USC into a tie at 41-all. Eaddy tied it again at 44-all on a 3-pointer.

Brown scored four in a row, and the Wildcats hit three consecutive 3-pointers – one from Terrell Brown Jr. and two by Dalen Terry – to go up 57-49.

USC made just 4 of 8 free throws during a stretch in which Arizona’s 7-foot-1 Christian Koloko got called for a technical after he shoved Chevez Goodwin on the baseline. That drew the Trojans within five, but Arizona ran off seven in a row to lead 67-55.

The Wildcats made 14 of 16 free throws over the final 5 1/2 minutes, when they didn’t have a field goal. USC was just 13 of 22 from the line, with Mobley hitting 8 of 12.

The Wildcats led by eight in the first half, which ended with them ahead 37-31. Arizona had a 21-16 advantage on the boards, with Tubelis equaling his career high of 12 by the break.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona: The Wildcats have two scheduled home games remaining until their season ends next weekend. The roster heavy with freshmen and sophomores, and two little-used seniors, has had few highlight moments during the pandemic-effected season.

USC: The Trojans lost for the first time in a month. They have five games remaining until the Pac-12 Tournament, including Utah and UCLA, teams they’ve already beaten.

UP NEXT

Arizona: Hosts Washington State on Thursday.

USC: Hosts Oregon on Monday.

Williams scores 40, leads WSU over Stanford in 3 OTs, 85-76

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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PULLMAN, Wash. — Noah Williams scored a career-high 40 points and Washington State outlasted Stanford 85-76 in triple overtime on Saturday.

Williams, who scored his previous career high of 32 in the Cougars’ win over Cal on Thursday, made 12 of 35 shots, including 8 of 18 from the arc, and 8 of 10 free throws with nine turnovers. His 40 points were the most for WSU since Klay Thompson scored 43 in 2011. The sophomore’s father, Guy Williams, scored what was then a WSU-record 43 points in 1983. The record is 45 by Brian Quinnett in 1986.

Efe Abogidi scored five points, Aljaz Kunc added a bucket and Williams scored the game’s final points on a floater as Washington State (14-10, 7-10 Pac-12) blanked Stanford 9-0 in the final overtime.

Abogidi finished with 14 points and Kunc and Andrej Jakimovski 11 each with Jakimovski adding nine assists and Dishon Jackson 10 rebounds.

The Cougars were outshot 52% to 36% but had 12 more rebounds, six more 3-pointers and made 18 of 23 at the line to Stanford’s 9 of 18. They ended a nine-game losing streak to Stanford (14-9, 10-7) and dealt a blow to the on-the-bubble Cardinal’s NCAA Tournament hopes. And they did it all without their their leading scorer, Isaac Bonton (18.4 ppg), out for the third consecutive game with an ankle injury.

Stanford’s Oscar Da Silva, the Pac-12’s second-leading scorer coming in at 19.1 points per game, finished with 11 in 28 minutes of play before fouling out in the second overtime. Michael O’Connell scored 17 points, Jaiden Delaire 15 and Spencer Jones and Daejon Davis 10 each.

Williams hit a 3-pointer with six seconds left to send the game into overtime. Stanford had the ball with 25 seconds left in the first OT but was harassed into a shot-clock violation to send it into a second extra period tied at 68-all. The second OT ended up at 76-all after Stanford’s Delaire drove and scored with 22 seconds left and Williams missed at the rim.

WSU’s victory clinched the Cougars’ first winning season since 2010-11.

WSU is at Arizona on Thursday, while Stanford takes on Oregon

No. 10 Arizona women down No. 11 Oregon 79-59

Dana Sparks/The Register-Guard
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EUGENE, Ore. — Cate Reese scored 25 points and No. 10 Arizona completed a season sweep of 11th-ranked Oregon with a 79-59 win on Monday.

Reese, a 6-foot-2 junior who entered the game averaging 11.3 points, was 11 for 14 from the field while making all three of her 3-point attempts. Sam Thomas scored 14 points and Trinity Baptiste and Aari McDonald each added 13 points as the Wildcats shot 50.8% from the field.

“We keep raising the bar for ourselves,” Reese said. “I think we’re all pretty excited about the win.”

Arizona, which had been off for 17 days with four games postponed because of COVID-19, won consecutive games against the Ducks for the first time since 2011. Coach Adia Barnes dropped her first 10 games against Oregon before this season’s sweep, which kept the Wildcats (12-2, 10-2 Pac-12) in second place in the conference.

“Not playing for two weeks and coming on the road to Oregon, that was a little terrifying,” Barnes said. “But I thought we played really well. I thought we controlled the game, especially the first couple minutes. I thought it was a really great team effort.”

Nyara Sabally scored 17 points to lead the Ducks (12-4, 9-4), who dropped to fourth in the Pac-12. Sedona Prince scored 10 points while Taylor Mikesell and Te-Hina Paopao each had nine points as Oregon shot 32.4% from the field, including 3 for 15 on 3-pointers.

“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “We won this league three years in a row. You think they want payback? When they see us down they are going to attack us and make us pay.”

Arizona led 33-32 at halftime before outscoring the Ducks 27-14 in the third quarter.

The Wildcats opened the second half with a 9-2 run to go ahead 42-34 on a pair of free throws by Thomas. The Wildcats scored 13 straight points before Paopao made a 3-pointer to get the Ducks within 60-46 entering the final period.

“They pushed the intensity level up and we didn’t go with them, unfortunately,” Graves said. “It is disappointing. I don’t have any other words to say. We played hard to the finish, we just didn’t play that well.”

Reese and Thomas combined to score the first eight points of the game for Arizona, which extended its lead to 21-11 on a 3-pointer by Baptiste. Oregon followed with the final eight points of the first quarter, including back-to-back layups for Lydia Giomi, to get within 21-19.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona: The Wildcats dropped one spot in the AP poll on Monday, but remain ranked for the 28th straight week, a school record. Arizona has won seven of its last 10 games against ranked teams with one more on the schedule in two weeks when it faces No. 5 Stanford.

Oregon: The Ducks have had multiple players miss games this season, including starting guard Taylor Chavez and freshman Maddie Scherr, who were both sidelined Monday due to COVID-19 protocols. Only five Ducks have played in all 16 games this season with Paopao, a freshman point guard, the only one to start each game.

UP NEXT

Arizona: Hosts Washington State on Friday before playing its final home game Sunday against Washington.

Oregon: Hosts last-place California on Friday before first-place Stanford visits on Monday.