HOOPS: Nothing but pressure for Cougs

PULLMAN -- A wretched start to the second half buried the Cougs on Wednesday night against Oregon State. Despite a herculean comeback effort, a barrage of second half turnovers against full-court pressure would be Washington State's undoing. In the end, a Mike Ladd-less Cougar squad let a very winnable game slip from their fingers, though the team showed heart and a massive amount of resolve.

Pressure. It's everywhere these days for the hardcourt Cougars.

Whether it's a full-court press from Oregon State, or the thickening smoke resonating off head coach Ken Bone's proverbial hot-seat -- the tension is palpable.

While the Cougs fought back and showed tenacity throughout, eventually falling to the Beavers 67-66, it still goes down in the record books as a loss. Washington State fell to 11-14 (2-10) on the year.

"I like that they hung in there… they persevered," Bone said.

A lot of positives can be pulled from this outing. The Cougs never folded. In fact, they fought back from a 15-point deficit in the second half, something foreign to Cougar basketball in recent weeks. A walk on, said Bone, was key.

"They played aggressive," Bone said. "Bryce Leavitt had a lot to do with that. He really started attacking."

The Cougs battled back for most of the second half with a bevy of three-pointers from senior Brock Motum and sophomore DeVonte Lacy. In the end, the Cougs' shortcoming on defense, their execution in full-court offense, and the inability to control the glass would all contribute to their downfall.

"That five minutes stretch there really hurt us," said Lacy of the first five minutes of the second half. The Cougs would give away six turnovers during span.

Despite the loss, Bone said he was impressed with the way Leavitt and another walk on freshman, Dominic Ballard, played. Leavitt played 25 minutes, a new career high. Ballard contributed with five strong minutes at the point guard position.

Meanwhile, Lacy's 19 second-half points equated for almost half of the Cougs offense in the second period.

"He shot with a ton of confidence," Bone said. "It would have been nice to have drawn something up there at the end for him or D.J. (Shelton)."

Lacy agreed, and said his health has contributed to four straight games in double-figures.

"I'm feeling healthy so I'm shooting the ball good," he said. "(My) teammates are finding me."

Combo-guard Mike Ladd sat with a ‘bothered knee.' Bone said he's receiving treatment on his left knee daily, but doesn't know when he'll be available next. According to Bone, two screws placed in Ladd's knee during his high school career are suddenly rubbing against a tendon in his knee, making it bothersome to walk.

Bone said it was only just recently decided he wouldn't play against OSU.

"Yesterday, a few minutes into practice," Bone said. "When we got back from Southern California, his knee was bothering him."

Motum finished with 16 points and four rebounds while Lacy poured in a new career high 27 points on seven of nine shooting from the three-point line.

So what's next for the Cougs?

The Oregon Ducks come to Beasley this Saturday to face-off against the Cougs in a 4 p.m. showdown.

"We need a win," Lacy said. "I think we all feel that way."

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