Washington State players talked about going undefeated in the second half of conference play after Sunday's 87-80 upset win against No. 18 Washington at Friel Court. Bone pleaded with his players not to become complacent after that victory, though.
"We talked about it," Bone said. "Talked about, talked about it and talked about it. That doesn't mean it worked. We came out very lethargic."
It was not the first time the Cougars (15-7 overall, 5-5 Pac-10) have displayed inconsistency on the road. WSU, which is 1-4 in conference road games, has looked lackadaisical at UCLA, USC and Cal, but none close to as poor as the Ducks (11-11, 4-6).
The Cougars converted just 6 of 28 field goals in the first half en route to a 33-22 deficit at the intermission. Couple the shooting woes with several offensive fouls and they converted just one field goal in the final 11 minutes, 54 seconds of the first half.
"We felt in the locker room at halftime that we had a little momentum going," Bone said. "But we came right back out and were worse in the second half."
Switching sides did little to change that in the final 20 minutes as WSU shot a season-low 25.9 percent from the field.
Bone said junior center DeAngelo Casto was ill enough that he did not participate in the team's pregame activities. It showed as Casto had one of his worst games of the season, scoring three points and converting just 1 of 5 field goals.
"We were not very good in the paint," Bone said. "That made it a lot easier for them to guard our perimeter game."
The Cougars converted just 4 of 25 3-pointers, but some of that might be explained as tired legs after the Cougars' intense win against the Huskies.
But there is little defense for WSU's performance on the other end. Oregon entered the game converting just 41.3 percent of its shots, which ranked last in the Pac-10. The Ducks' talent deficiency means it starts Jay-R Strowbridge, who previously had collegiate stints at Nebraska and Jacksonville State. Their rotation includes lightly recruited junior-college transfer Tyrone Nared and sometimes walk-on guard Nick Fearn.
But Strowbridge had 15 points, one of four players who scored in double figures along with Joevan Catron (17), Garrett Sim (13) and E.J. Singler (10).
WSU had two with junior wing Klay Thompson, who passed 1990s star Mark Hendrickson for fourth in school history with 1,504 career points, but hit just 4 of 13 shots and had six turnovers, while sophomore point guard Reggie Moore finished with 10 points on 2 of 8 shooting.
PERHAPS THE COUGARS will recover from this loss. They have played some of their best basketball in game, such as UW, when it was regarded as a must win. Saturday's game at Oregon State, which defeated the Huskies 68-56 on Thursday, likely will be regarded in a similar fashion.
Arizona's 78-69 victory Thursday at Stanford puts the Wildcats in first place and three games ahead WSU. Simply put, the chances of the Cougars winning the conference are almost nonexistent. And considering Arizona State did not advance to the NCAA Tournament with a 12-6 conference record last season, WSU has plenty of work to do there, as well.
The Hangover must end Saturday and the Cougars have to display far more consistency. Otherwise, any postseason aspirations better than the NIT will be viewed as little more than comedy.