PULLMAN, Wash. – Despite typically shaky starts in each half, the Arizona Wildcats managed to hang on for their fifth-straight win Thursday, 76-72 over Washington State at Friel Court.
The win moved Arizona to 19-8 overall and 10-4 in the Pac-12 heading into a showdown at Washington on Saturday in Seattle. The Cougars dropped to 13-13 overall and 5-9 in the Pac-12.
The Wildcats stumbled to a 7-0 deficit early and committed four turnovers in the first three minutes of the second half, while also suffering from foul trouble to forwards Jesse Perry and Angelo Chol.
But they compensated with 5-of-7 three pointers from Brendon Lavender, who led the Wildcats in scoring with 15 points off the bench, while Kyle Fogg had 16 points and Perry had 14.
Brock Motum led WSU in scoring with 28 points and shot 18 free throws while the Wildcats ran into foul trouble against him.
Both Perry and Chol had four fouls midway through the second half, forcing UA coach Sean Miller to play Kyryl Natyazhko for the first time in four games.
The teams entered the final two minutes tied at 67, before Perry scored inside to give the Wildcats a two-point lead with 1:10 left. But Reggie Moore hit two free throws with 1:04 left to tie the game back up entering the final minute.
Then, with 39 seconds left, Josiah Turner fired an entry pass to Perry, who made a layup and picked up the foul. Perry made the ensuing free throw to give UA a 72-69 lead.
With 21 seconds, Kyle Fogg fouled Brock Motum at the three-point line and officials reviewed the monitor to rule that Motum was in the process of shooting a three when Fogg fouled him.
But while Motum was given three shots, he missed the first two before making the third and the Cougars were forced to foul with a 72-70 UA lead.
Kyle Fogg then hit two free throws to make it 74-70 and Brendon Lavender later hit two more to seal the win for Arizona.
Earlier, with both Perry and Chol in foul trouble, Brock Motum shot a three-pointer over Natyazhko. The Wildcats led 61-60 with eight minutes left.
Chol had picked up his fourth foul in contact with Motum, with 11:19 left.
The start of the second half featured all-too-typical UA trouble. The Wildcats had four turnovers in the first three minutes of the second half.
In the first half, Fogg had 10 points and seven rebounds in the first half to lead Arizona to a 40-39 halftime lead despite some all-too-familiar early trouble.
The Wildcats trailed 7-0 early and by a basket or two for most of the first half until they pulled barely ahead toward the end of the first half Lavender hit three-pointers that gave UA leads at 27-26, with 8:31 left, and 39-37, with 1:38 left.
Lavender finished with six points while Josiah Turner had eight and Solomon Hill seven for the Wildcats. Motum led WSU with 11 points in the half while Reggie Moore had 10.
Earlier, WSU lead 19-15 with 10:56 left. But at that point, Turner was leading the way for UA, with five points, one assist and one rebound off some aggressive play.
After WSU took off to 7-0 and 11-3 leads, Solomon Hill and Fogg hit three pointers to tie the game at 11, forcing WSU to call timeout with 13:12 to go in the first half.
While WSU took a 7-0 start, Arizona missed two shots and turned the ball over twice on its first four possessions.
Editor's note: Commenting was turned off during the game to allow fans and readers to participate in a new live fan chat at live.azstarnet.com. Now that the chat is over we've turned commenting back on. Check back on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. MST to join in the chat before the game against Washington.