Cougs FREE fall against lowly Utes

"WOW." That was how long-time announcer Bud Nameck summed it up. It was difficult to imagine a more embarrassing loss for Washington State than the ones that occurred at the 76 Classic in November. That was until Thursday night's Pac-12 road opener. Guard Josh Watkins, who scored 20 points, converted a shot with 3.3 seconds remaining in overtime to lead Utah to a 62-60 win against the Cougars.

Freshman DaVonté Lacy committed a turnover during the final possession as WSU to secure the loss against a team that was consider by statistical analyst Ken Pomeroy as perhaps the worst major college program since Georgia Tech in 1980-81. Among 345 teams, Pomeroy had the Utes (4-10 overall, 1-1 conference) ranked 336th.

Instead, WSU (9-6, 1-2) found itself on the wrong end of several statistics as its record against Utah dropped to 1-11 at the Huntsman Center. None were more glaring than the Cougars shooting 10 of 22 from the free-throw line.

Coach Ken Bone said it was a microcosm of the game.

"That is very disappointing, especially in the low level of concentration," he said in a postgame radio interview. "We've got to come out with energy and focus. I don't think we brought it the way we needed to."

Lacy split a pair of free throws to give WSU a 60-58 lead with 1:05 left in overtime. But guard Chris Hines responded with a jumper to tie the game before Watkins' game-winning shot.

That wasted an superlative performance by Brock Motum, who is emerging as WSU's go-to scorer.

The 6-foot-10 junior scored 27 points. He now is averaging 21.7 points in three conference games.

A scarier prospect is to imagine where WSU might be without Motum. He scored a game-high 26 points to lead the Cougars to an 81-76 win Saturday against Oregon State in Spokane.

Motum converted 4 of 5 field goals en route to 11 points at halftime. The rest of the Cougars made just 5 of 17 shots during that span as they trailed 29-23 at the intermission. It was their fewest points during the first half this season.

He did not slow down much in the second half. Motum collected an offensive rebound and later was fouled. He converted both free throws to give WSU a 54-49 lead with 2:20 minutes left.

Given Utah's offensive woes, that figured to be enough to secure the victory. But Cedric Martin hit and 3-pointer and Josh Watkins converted a jumper with about 12 seconds left to tie the game, 54-all, and send it into overtime.

The Utes, who entered the game shooting just 41 percent, finished 47.3 percent.

The Cougars next play at 3 p.m. Saturday at Colorado (10-4, 2-0), which defeated UW 87-69 on Thursday.

"They're playing confident and they beat (Utah) by 40," Bone said. "You do the math."

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • WSU now is 2-5 in overtime games under Bone.
  • The Cougars' 45.5 percentage on free throws is their worst mark since they shot 42.9 percent from the stripe on Jan. 27, 2005, at Arizona State.

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