Josh Watkins built his reputation as a scorer by driving the ball all the way to the hoop and looping the ball over defenders that tower...
SALT LAKE CITY — Josh Watkins built his reputation as a scorer by driving the ball all the way to the hoop and looping the ball over defenders that tower over his 5-foot-11 frame.
On Thursday night, Watkins surprised his opponents by pulling up at the free-throw line and sinking two crucial jumpers as Utah got its first-ever Pac-12 conference win by beating Washington State 62-60 in overtime.
“At the end, my guy was just trying to overplay me and all I had to do was stop, rise up and hit that shot. My guy just went flying by,” said Watkins, who scored 20 points and made the winning jumper in the extra period.
“Teams in our league are going to load up on us, and if he thinks he’s going to get to the rim every time, I told him it’s not going to always happen. So some of his midrange game needs to come into play,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said.
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Jason Washburn had 11 points and Dijon Farr 10 before fouling out in regulation as the Utes (4-10, 1-1) rebounded from back-to-back losses of more than 30 points each.
“Wow, we experienced the two ends of the spectrum the last two games, but this definitely feels really good and means a lot to our guys,” Krystkowiak said.
Brock Motum had 27 points and eight rebounds and Faisel Aiden scored 11 points, but the Cougars (9-6, 1-2) couldn’t overcome 10-of-22 free-throw shooting and crucial turnovers.
In overtime, Washington State’s Reggie Moore missed a jumper with 12 seconds left. Watkins rushed down the court, freed himself with a behind-the-back dribble and made a 14-foot jumper with 3.3 seconds remaining.
The Cougars had to go the full length of the court, and DaVonte Lacy dribbled off his leg out of bounds with 1.5 seconds left. The Utes inbounded to Watkins, who threw the ball high in the air to run out the clock.
Motum made two free throws to give Washington State a 54-49 lead with 2:20 to play in regulation, but it didn’t score again before overtime. Chris Hines made a three-pointer off a Watkins assist, and Watkins made a pull-up jumper with 18 seconds left to knot the score at 54-54.
Motum made 10 of 12 shots, including all three three-point attempts. But the rest of the Cougars combined to go 11 for 36.
“We have to come out with energy, effort and focus, and I don’t think we brought it the way we needed to,” Cougars coach Ken Bone said.