Lifeless Cougs can't finish Oregon home sweep

PULLMAN— How do you stop a three-game winning streak and momentum not seen around Washington State basketball in a few years? Oregon State had an answer: a confounding 2-3 zone, combined with tight on-ball pressure and height that caused the Cougars to shoot just 29 percent and 5 of 25 from 3-point range Saturday night in a 62-47 loss to the Beavers.

It was WSU's worst shooting performance since firing at a 22.8 percent clip in a loss to UC Santa Barbara in November.

“It seemed like every time we tried to take a shot they (the Beavers) were right there,” senior guard DaVonte Lacy said. “They used it to their advantage kind of like a Syracuse 2-3 — using their length to their advantage…they did a good job.”

The Beavers (12-5, 3-2) also pressed the Cougars (9-8, 3-2) often, which helped OSU slow down the game and prevented the up-tempo Cougars from getting in a rhythm on offense.

“They run it really well…we knew that coming into the game,” junior guard Brett Boese said. “We had a lot of open looks and a lot of open shots — credit to them they play great defense and made big shots.”

With Washington State trailing 21-12, coach Ernie Kent inserted freshman guard Trevor Dunbar into the lineup with hope of speeding up the game and creating more shot opportunities for the Cougars.

“I felt he did a good job when he got in the game,” Kent said. “He was able to get into the lane and I remember he gave three, four guys great looks…he did exactly what we needed him to do.”

Though Dunbar sped up the game and gave his teammates good looks, the Cougars' shooting woes continued. Oregon State led 25-16 at halftime.

Lacy was scoreless in the first half. Kent said that Lacy was still banged up from Thursday's Oregon game -- the result of banging knees late in the contest -- and didn’t know how much the Tacoma native would play against the Beavers.

“I thought he did a good job of gutting himself through it and trying to push himself,” Kent said.

Lacy would eventually find his game in the second half, scoring 16 points on 4 of 8 shooting from the field.

With the Cougars struggling for offense, WSU decided to attack the basket in the second half, with the hopes of getting to the free throw line. The Cougars shot 12 of 14 from the foul line in the second half.

“We didn’t get a lot done inside to start the game and then we started settling for jump shots and obviously that wasn’t working because we were missing shots, so we tried to put it on the floor and attack more, particularly late to kind of lengthen the game by getting to the free throw line,” Kent said.

The late free throw shooting helped cut the deficit to eight points with 3:33 left in the game. But Oregon State responded when with a jumper by Gary Payton II that seemed to suck the life from Beasley Coliseum.

“It’s always tough because we’re working our tail off to get back in the game and we hit some big shots and they come down and you know Langston (Morris-Walker) will hit a three and get the lead back to 12,” sophomore forward Josh Hawkinson said. “I don’t think we fought hard enough in the second half to come back like we wanted to.”

Beaver junior guard Langston Morris-Walker finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds.

“He made big shots,” Kent said. “He hit some big threes — when you look at them you think they’re not the greatest offensive team…he had some big shots and made us pay pretty much every time we had the double team. So again by getting behind and getting stagnant, having to change the way you play — having to press more and do some things that are uncharacteristic, he stepped up then and made you pay for doing those things.

The Cougars play at Utah at 6 p.m. Wednesday, televised on the Pac-12 Network.

“It’s huge (we stay confident) because that crowd is going to be so loud — it’s going to be packed,” Lacy said. “They’re a good team — a top-10 team in the country — obviously they played another top team in Arizona so we need to come out ready to play — it’s going to be huge that we continue to play our style again and continue our confidence of shooting the ball because we all can shoot. We have to go in there and battle because it’s not going to be easy.”

NOTABLE NOTES
  • -Attendance tallied at 5,116

  • -Starting lineup included: Ny Redding, Ike Iroegbu, DaVonte Lacy, Josh Hawkinson, and Jordan Railey.

  • -The Cougars never led in the game against Oregon State.

  • -With the loss to Oregon State, the Cougars now sit at No.4 in the Pac-12 Standings.


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