Fast start, tossed cookies & FT’s key WSU win

JOSH HAWKINSON missed his first two shots Saturday against Rice. He didn’t miss much else the rest of the way. In the consolation round of the Great Alaska Shootout, WSU’s second-year sophomore post poured in 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Cougars held on down the stretch for a 76-74 win. The Cougs ran the floor hard in this one – just ask DaVonte Lacy.

Nothing has come easy for the Cougs this year. Washington State led 68-60 with 2:07 remaining against Rice but saw that lead trimmed to just 74-72 with 9.1 seconds left.

Lacy hit two must-have free throws to seal the win. He was a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line. Earlier in the second half, Lacy lost his lunch, Ernie Kent said on the radio postgame show.

“That’s how hard we ran, that’s how hard we need to run, but I told him I wanted us to make the other team throw up,” quipped Kent. “The sign of a good player is that he can get to the line.”

The Cougars finally got off to a good start, hitting 10 of their first 16 shots to take a 24-9 lead early.

With 39 points in the first half, Washington State nearly matched their output for the entire game against UCSB on Thanksgiving night (43). They led by as many as 17 -- but Rice battled back to trail by only six points at the break.

Three Cougars were in double figures on Friday: Hawkinson had a career-high 27, Lacy had 15 and Dexter Kernich Drew added 12. Hawkinson was 11-of-18 on the night and nearly posted another double-double with eight rebounds against Rice.

Hawkinson’s night was the big story but not far behind was Kernich-Drew, who broke out of a four-game slump to start the season with a 4-of-8 shooting night, including 3-of-4 behind the arc.

Kent put Ike Iroegbu at the 2, Lacy at the 3 and Ny Redding at the point -- a combination that led to more buckets on the break against Rice. Redding responded with eight assists against two turnovers against Rice, and the Cougs had 24 made-shots on 21 assists - something Kent made sure to note after the game.

“The thing about this team is we’re still trying to find our identity… our identity is to run. We’ve got to get up and down,” said Kent. “We were absolutely horrible yesterday (against UCSB but) whatever you want to call it, I was proud of how they bounced back today.”

Washington State (2-3) plays Missouri State in the consolation final on Saturday at 3 p.m. (no TV; 4th/6th place).

“It is so important for us to come back to Pullman 3-3… this is a huge basketball game early in the year… to try and come back home and then go above .500 on the year (against Idaho on Dec. 3, Pac-12 Networks, 7 p.m.)

LACY LOST HIS LUNCH IN THE SECOND HALF BUT STILL WENT ON TO HIT 9-9 FROM THE FREE-THROW LINE, INCLUDING DECISIVE PAIR WITH 9.1 SECONDS LEFT

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Kent cancelled the shoot-around before the game, saying he thought the Cougs might have left their jumper in practice on Thanksgiving, contributing to the awful first half shooting against UCSB (3-33).

  • Iroegbu scored eight points and dished out five assists. Que Johnson played only four minutes, going 0-3 with one board and one turnover. Brett Boese went 0-3 from the field but had three assists and three boards in 16 minutes.

  • Four Cougars played 30-plus minutes, led by Hawkinson’s 37.

  • WSU scored eight points on fast breaks while Rice had zero.

  • The Cougs shot 43.3 percent in the first half, 52.1 in the second and 47.1 percent for the game. They were 7-15 (46 percent) from three-point range. Apart from Lacy, WSU faltered at the line in the final minutes but managed to hit 21-of-29 (72.4 percent.) WSU was cruising along at a high 80’s clip until the end of the game. Rice shot 40 percent from the floor and was 8-22 from downtown (36.4 percent.)


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