HOOPS: Cougs forget to sharpen No. 2 pencil

IN THE LAST Cougar basketball game before finals week begins at Washington State, the Cougs forgot to sharpen their No. 2 pencil. They started 2-of-10 from the floor, made a bevy of what Ernie Kent called “bonehead unforced turnovers” in the first half and allowed the Santa Clara guards to drive virtually at will. Still, WSU had a chance to win – if only they could hit the open three-point shot.

Santa Clara beat the Cougs for the first time in five tries, 76-67, as Washington State shot 22.2 percent from three-point range (4-18). Many of those attempts, Kent lamented after the game, were open looks. The Cougs committed 13 turnovers which Santa Clara converted into 19 points.

SC’s guards didn’t necessarily shoot lights out from long range either but what they did do was out-quick WSU. Jared Brownridge and Brandon Clark shot 57 and 55 percent from the floor, respectively, with a goodly portion of that total from close range. They accounted for 25 of SC’s 38 first half points.

“You’re not going to beat many people giving up those kinds of numbers,” said Kent on the postgame radio show.

Kent praised the performances of guard Ike Iroegbu (pictured above, 18 points on 7-9 shooting, 4 assists, 1 turnover) and forward Josh Hawkinson (16 points, a career-high 16 rebounds, 6-12 shooting.)

But apart from those two?

“We had shots to be made, and we didn’t shoot the ball very well,” said Kent.

The Cougs trimmed the lead in the second half to five on a pair of occasions but a number of missed shots off open looks ensured they would get no closer.

No one had a tougher shooting night than DaVonte Lacy, who went 2-12 from the floor and 1-8 from downtown, finishing with nine points.

“He had some great looks,” said Kent.

On the plus side, Kent said Hawkinson “played his normal game.”

That Hawkinson’s “normal game” is basically a double-double, or near to it, speaks volumes on how far he’s come offensively through the first 10 games of his sophomore season. Hawkinson posted his fifth double-double on the year and it was the sixth time he’s collected 10 or more rebounds.

But the Cougars’ interior defense, whether going against bigs or dealing with teams like Santa Clara who spread out and then drive with quick guards, has been an eyesore this season. And oh, those turnovers.

“There are going to be turnovers -- these were unforced… those are bonehead unforced turnovers is all I can say about them… they shouldn’t happen…with the caliber of players that are here,” said Kent.

At the end of the first half, the Cougs had 0 blocks, 0 steals and 2 fast-break points.

And that, with the players WSU has, shouldn’t happen either.

  • The Cougs did not have a steal and finished with two blocks, one by Junior Longrus and one from Ny Redding. Redding had three assists but committed four turnovers.

  • Santa Clara was steadily around the 50-percent shooting mark or greater all night, finishing at 51.0 percent. WSU after a first half in the 30s, shot 45.5 percent for the game.

  • WSU handily outrebounded Santa Clara 39-22, with a 14-4 edge on offensive boards.

  • Brett Boese was 3-5 from the floor, including 2-3 from three-point land. He posted eight points in 21 minutes.

  • Que Johnson played significant minutes (23) but shot 2-7 from the field and finished with four points.

  • A rough season continued for Dexter Kernich-Drew, who committed three turnovers in 11 minutes. He attempted only two shots, hitting one.

  • Washington State trailed by 13 with 12 minutes left before getting the lead down to five points twice.

  • After finals week, the Cougs next take the court on Sunday, Dec. 21 at 4 p.m. when they host San Jose State.

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