Bone: Post game remains big hurdle for Cougs

WASHINGTON STATE COACH Ken Bone cautioned against making any definitive judgments based on one game. But he said during his Tuesday teleconference that the Cougars' ability to respond to a 21-point second half deficit during Monday night's 89-81 season-opening loss at Gonzaga showed their character.

"What pleased me the most is that we showed a lot of fight down the stretch," he said. "A lot of teams would've thrown the towel in or got into a situation where they were not mentally tough."

WSU (0-1), which hosts Sacramento State (2-0) at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, cut its deficit to 84-81 with 27.3 seconds remaining on a 3-pointer by junior point guard Reggie Moore.

Those were among the highlights. Bone reiterated that the No. 23 Bulldogs (2-0) also gave his team plenty of areas to focus on improvement.

"What isn't a huge surprise and is disappointing is that we struggled in the paint," he said. "We've got that hurdle to try and get over to compete inside 10 feet."

Bone said the final statistics, where the Cougars outscored Gonzaga in the paint, were deceptive. Seven-foot center Robert Sacre had just one field goal, but reached the free-throw line 13 times, where he was perfect.

WSU, which already is without DeAngelo Casto, who elected to forego his final season of eligibility, also played without 6-7 forward Abe Lodwick (foot sprain).

"I cannot say if we had Abe on the floor, we would've won the game," said Bone, adding that Lodwick will visit with a trainer this afternoon and is questionable for Thursday's game. "But it would've helped us some."

Bone said Lodwick's foot is "fairly tender" and there never was any discussion about him playing Monday. Senior Charlie Enquist started in his place.

He long has maintained that this team would be challenged in the post. Because of that, Bone said his guards need to contribute with rebounds. He noted that in 56 minutes of combined playing time, Moore and Mike Ladd had no rebounds.

Without mentioning names, Bone said he also felt some players forced shots. The Cougars shot 47.5 percent from the field Monday.

"We have some guys who need to let the game come to them," he said. "I think we really need to execute the offense and let the game come to us."

  • Bone agreed with one reporter's assertion that opening in a hostile road environment against the Bulldogs could help prepare his team for other difficult road venues.

  • The Cougars switched from a 2-3 zone defense to a trap during the second half Monday.

    "Last night was more out of desperation," Bone said. "We couldn't keep them in front of us on ball screens."

  • In his three seasons at WSU, Bone said guard DaVonté Lacy is the most composed freshman he has had. The former Curtis High School standout converted 4 of 7 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers down the stretch, en route to 11 points. As far as composure and ability to make an immediate impact, Bone said Moore and Xavier Thames, who transferred after the 2009-10 season to San Diego State, are his best freshman so far.

  • Bone called Gonzaga an "emotional game" and said his team needs to quickly move on.

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