Anemic start, furious finish, but Cougs lose

PULLMAN – One statistical comparison is all that's really necessary to understand why heavy underdog Texas Christian defeated WSU on Friel Court Sunday. In the first half, the Horned Frogs shot 67 percent from the field while the Cougs shot 27 percent in the face of a stubborn zone D. The fact the Cougs had a chance in the waning moments of the game to tie was remarkable given the anemic start.

"We just didn't make shots," said Cougar junior guard Royce Woolridge, who hit four of his five shots from the field and finished with 13 points. "We got a lot of wide open shots that we normally knock down but in the first half they just weren't falling. We made an emphasis on our executing our plays in the second half, and it just flowed better and we got better shots and we actually knocked them down in the second half."

Indeed, the Cougars shot 50 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes, TCU 43 percent.

They clawed back from an 11-point halftime deficit to take the lead 45-44 on a DaVonte Lacy trey with 9:59 left but then fell behind again before tying matters at 59 on a Dexter-Kernich Drew three-pointer with 2:47 remaining. Another trey by Lacy with 14 seconds left tied the game at 62.

TCU did not hit a field goal in the final four minutes but went to the charity stripe repeatedly and secured the winning points there when Kyan Anderson drilled two with 5 seconds left after driving the lane and drawing a blocking foul from Woolridge.

The final was 64-62.

"I thought our defense was better the second half but they still were able to break us down off the dribble," said WSU coach Ken Bone. "Their ability to drive and us not being able to keep them in front of us, hurt us. I thought it hurt more in the first half than the second half."

Woolridge expressed frustration with the new NCAA rules restricting defense.

"This year it's hard to guard people off the dribble because if you put your hand on them at all it's a foul. It's something we gotta keep working on in practice and get used to because we're going to have to able to level the ball off if we want to win games. That's how people are playing now, they're just attacking," he said.

The loss dropped WSU to 2-2 and improved TCU to 2-2.

"They're very good and determined to drive and they're pretty good at drawing the foul. We knew that coming in and it's that year where the advantage goes to the guy with the ball and if you drive it, and even initiate the contact you quite often get the call," Bone said.

The Horned Frogs received a huge boost at both ends of the court from 6-foot-9 Amric Fields, who was playing in his first game in a year after blowing a knee. He blocked Lacy's last-second drive to the hoop right at the rim, and on offense he tallied 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting from the field.

Although the Cougs had a timeout left with 5.8 seconds on the clock, they elected to push the ball after TCU's last free throws in an effort to catch the defense out of position, said Bone.

"We wanted to go in transition when the defense wasn't set because we're down two, get the ball to one of our best free-throw shooters and attack when the defense wasn't set," he said. Bone said there was never a thought to take the timeout and draw up a play.

"We tried to attack in the open court when the defense was not set and to get it to a guy that can drive and make free throws and we'd do the same thing again the next ten times if we could."

Those types of aggressive drives to the rim didn't come often for Bone's unit. Instead, they again relied on shooting from long range, hoisting up 34 threes on the day, knocking down 13 of them. The emphasis on three-point shooting led to the Cougars being outscored in the paint 34-10, something Bone said was a result of a tough TCU zone defense.

"Their zone was fairly tight. There's give and take and you gotta take what they give," Bone said. "When we did attack there were times where we weren't getting what we wanted out of it so we had to settle for threes. I do think we have some good three point shooters, I want to give them the confidence to shoot, second half we shot pretty well, first half we shot poor from three."


  • In addition to a barrage of threes made to ignite a second half comeback the Cougars went to a trapping defense where they jumped the pick and roll at the point of attack. "I thought it did slow them down. We blitzed it, trapped it and rotated and for the most part we did a pretty good job at that," Bone said.

  • After a 20-point performance against Gonzaga, Ike Iroegbu went 2-7 from the field and finished with six points. Iroegbu hit two key three pointers to fuel the comeback effort but was absent most of the game down the stretch.

  • Jordan Railey started for the second-straight game but saw only six minutes on the floor, a move Bone said was due to TCU's quickness off the dribble which allowed Junior Longrus to log those extra minutes. Longrus played 14 minutes and grabbed three rebounds.

  • Lacy led all scorers with 18 points, shooting 5-14 from the field, 5-12 from downtown.

  • Next up for the Cougars is a trip to Orlando and the Old Spice Classic. They open against Butler on Thursday at 11 a.m. (ESPN2).

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