Cougars fall flat from beyond the arc

PULLMAN — If it felt like a surprise when freshman Louise Brown drained a 3-pointer to tie the game just before halftime, the statistics back it up. Washington State converted just 7 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc as the Cougars fell 82-61 against No. 16 Nebraska on Wednesday night at Friel Court.

Five Nebraska players finished in double-figures for scoring, and the team shot 44 percent from the field.

“We just didn’t do a good job of moving the basketball and doing some things against their pressure defense,” WSU coach June Daugherty said. “We tried to go a little too much one-on-one and it resulted in some poor shot selections. They played certain people and sagged off others and when that happens you’ve got to catch the ball in rhythm, and if you’re not going to take the shot, then great, move it.”

Tia Presley said that give-and-take from the Nebraska defense caused the Cougars to shoot out of rhythm because they weren’t expecting to be so open when the time came to take the shots.

Shalie Dheensaw (pictured above) didn’t struggle too much on the offensive end of the floor as she led WSU in scoring. The senior finished with 19 points on 9 of 15 shooting, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

The bright spot on offense for the Cougars came when they surged for a 12-2 run over a span of about six minutes as the first half wound toward a close.

“When our defense works, it works amazingly,” Dheensaw said. “You’ve seen that in the first two games. When it doesn’t work, they get easy buckets when we don’t talk, when we don’t move, and that’s what happened in the first couple minutes of the second half.”

The tie at the end of the first half quickly disappeared over the course of the second period. Nebraska opened up a 13-point lead within seven minutes, and from there, the wheels fell off. In that span, the Cougars were 2 of 8 while the Cornhuskers were 8 of 14.

The Cougars continued to launch 3-pointers in the second half — and they weren’t falling any more than they were in the first half. An 0 for 4 start from beyond the arc in the first half turned into a 2 of 12 effort at halftime. Then the Cougars proceeded to shoot 15 3-pointers in the second half and missed every single one.

Presley said Nebraska did a good job of plugging the driving lanes, causing the Cougars to struggle to get near the hoop. She added that the Cougars didn’t match the Cornhuskers’ intensity, which Daugherty reiterated.

“I thought because our offense wasn’t going, I thought it affected our defensive energy, and because of that, we had some miscues to start the second half that were really costly,” Daugherty said.

The Cougars weren’t talking nearly as much as usual, Daugherty said, and they didn’t move the basketball as effectively as they should have.

To make matters worse, the Cougars allowed the close game to slip away by only scoring 27 points in the second half while surrendering 48 to the Cornhuskers.

The Cougars fell to 2-1 on the season, and the Cornhuskers improved to 3-0. Next up for Washington State is a Friday night matchup against Seattle at 8:30 p.m. in Pullman. That concludes a stretch of five consecutive games at home.

  • Despite the final score, the Cougars won the battle in both second-chance points and in points off of turnovers. WSU outscored Nebraska on second chances 14-11, and 13-9 in points off of turnovers.

  • Among the five freshmen who played for the Cougars, Louise Brown was the only one to score. Brown finished with seven points on 3 of 8 shooting and she grabbed 10 rebounds.

  • The Cornhuskers suffered through a 19-hour flight delay before arriving in Pullman for the game, which started at 8 p.m.

  • Official attendance was 853, although some left for the exits once the game looked out of hand.

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