The men’s basketball series between Washington State and Gonzaga, a staple of Pacific Northwest sports most of the past century, appears to be coming to an end for the foreseeable future.
Washington State coach Ernie Kent said Monday that Gonzaga coach Mark Few has informed him the Bulldogs will “probably not” play the Cougars next season. No games between the teams are planned for any season beyond the Dec. 2 contest in Pullman, Kent said.
Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth told SportspressNW last month the Bulldogs – a perennial Top 25 team coming off an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA tournament – have put an emphasis on scheduling “resume-building games.” WSU has posted three losing seasons in a row and were picked to finish last in the Pac-12 Conference in the league’s preseason media poll for 2015-16.
“I understand Mark’s position,” Kent said, “because he has to do what he feels like is best for his program. He’s had tremendous success with his schedule and with his tournament runs and all of those things, so he has to do what is best for them.
“Obviously, on the Coug side of it, we’d like to see the series continue.”
The Cougars and Bulldogs have played most years since the series began with a 28-17 WSU win at Gonzaga on Dec. 16, 1907. WSU leads the all-time series 98-51, but Gonzaga has won four in a row and 13 of 16.
“Obviously, we think it would be a great series with them just up the road and everything else,” Kent said. “With all the fans that are up in their area that are WSU alums.
“But, he (Few) has to make that decision. We’d love to continue to play.”
With help from Gonzaga fans, the Cougars often draw one of, if not the, largest home crowd of the year for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga sells out every game at its 6,000-seat arena regardless of the opponent. Last year’s game, an 81-66 win for the Bulldogs, drew 11,521 at the Spokane Arena.
“We want to continue the series and play every year, home and home, back and forth every year,” Kent stressed. “But that’s something they have to decide.”