HOOPS: Cougs plumb historic lows in loss

HOW BAD WAS Washington State's 60-25 loss to No. 1 Arizona? The last time the Cougs scored so few points in a basketball game, a loaf of bread cost nine cents and a new home could be had for $3,900. You have to go all the way back to 1938, when the Cougs lost 35-25 to Idaho to find a time when Washington State had a more difficult time putting the ball in the basket.

How bad was Thursday night at Arizona? Cougar hoops cynics, whose ranks are likely to increase after the Pac-12 opener, would say that rather than play in this one, DaVonté Lacy (appendectomy) and Dexter Kernich-Drew (concussion), took the easier way out.

Gallows humor was about all Cougar fans had left after Washington State (7-6, 0-1) crashed and burned on the road against the nation's top team.

IT WASN'T THAT Washington State never seriously threatened to win this one, few gave the Cougs much of a chance against Arizona (14-0). No, it was that WSU never seriously threatened to reach the double-digit scoring mark in the first half.

At various stages over the first 20 minutes, Arizona led 7-0, 18-1 and finally, 28-7 at the break. The Cougs didn't score their first field goal until there was 6:42 left in the first half, when Royce Woolridge made good on a contested layup.

Worse, from this chair, there appeared no real sense of anger as the UA lead widened, no demonstrable doubling of resolve from the Cougar players. Oh, they tried hard. The Cougs were appreciably outmatched but they still played hard. But there was no outrage, no one who took offense to it all, no one who grabbed the ball and tried to really take it at Arizona to get a bucket, a foul or both. To be fair, Arizona's defense didn't offer many gaps.

The malaise continued after halftime, and it seemed infectious beyond just the guys in the crimson shirts. Early in the second half, Jordan Railey caught a flagrant elbow from an Arizona player almost directly under the basket, effectively taking him out of the next two possessions. The officials somehow missed it, and didn't go to the monitor after Railey finally was able to come out of the game.

Long before that happened, there were a large number of poor entries, clanked shots and fumbled passes from the Cougars. THOSE LOOKING FOR silver linings from the loss… can just keep on looking.

It's arguable how much Washington State's defense had to do with Arizona's low point total. Arizona was held to 20-of-45 shooting and a season-low 60 points, but at least some of that appeared self-inflicted.

Regardless, any glow from the Cougars' defense end was overshadowed by their own shooting, nine-of-45 from the field, and the sting of a 35-point loss.

WSU HAS A few days to flush this game, they don't play at Arizona State until Sunday. After the game, Ken Bone told a quiet locker room about the only thing he could.

"You guys did a very good job defensively… other than that, we'll move on to the next game. It took about 30 seconds and that was about it," said Bone on the postgame show.

The challenge now after such a demoralizing loss will be resiliency. When things tend to go bad, and they do for every team given the nature of basketball and scoring runs, it becomes harder to turn the tide after a loss such as this. Bone and his coaching staff have their work cut out for them the next few days.

"We just need to come together as a team and I don't think that will be an issue…but we have to be able to execute better and (score)," said Bone.

Lacy, who averages 18.9 ppg, had been ruled out. Whether the Cougs can get back Kernich-Drew before Sunday remains unknown.

Much like the road facing the Cougars in 2014.

  • Junior Longrus led the Cougs in scoring with six points. He also grabbed four rebounds.

  • Que Johnson was whistled for two quick fouls in the opening half. He finished with three points on 1-5 shooting in 24 minutes.

  • No Cougar scored in double figures for the first time this season. It was also a first in the Bone era.

  • Arizona's previous McKale Center record for fewest points was 37 by Northern Arizona in 1989.

  • WSU was outrebounded 42-28 and lost the turnover battle to Arizona, 14-11.

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