Starting lineup switcheroo pays off for Cougs

PULLMAN — Riding a four-game losing streak, Ernie Kent felt the need for change to Washington State's starting lineup in order to provide more firepower and a spark for the Cougars. Kent’s decision to start sophomore Que Johnson over freshman guard Ny Redding paid off big time Saturday night as both players responded in the Cougars 89-88 win over Stanford.

Kent credited two factors in the starting lineup change. Foremost was Johnson's production from the outset, as he helped the Cougars (10-11, 4-5 Pac-12) get going early in the game. The other was Redding's response to contributing as a WSU reserve.

Ny Redding showed with tremendous character of his family and his faith to be able to come off that bench without complaining at all, and give us energy in the game. (He) did everything right on the bench and did everything right in that locker room to handle it well,” Kent said. “Young people just don’t respond like that in this day of age. I thought he was fantastic.”

Kent added the switch wouldn't have worked if Redding complained about the situation. Redding finished the night with six points and three assists. He also nailed two crucial free throws down with 5.5 seconds remaining, that gave the Cougars' an insurmountable 89-85 lead.

Johnson found a rhythm early in the game for the Cougars, ending up as the only WSU player to reach double figures by halftime with 12 points.

“If you start off the game then normally you just have like a better flow,” Johnson said.

Johnson finished with 14 points and 4 of 9 shooting from the field.

Despite Johnson's immediate spark, Stanford (15-6, 6-3) controlled early action, taking a 13-point lead with 7:42 left in the first half. But Washington State wiped out the deficit and then some, finishing the half on a 22-8 run to take a 42-41 lead at halftime.

“Stanford forced us to grow up because they were not going to come down on a level -- we had to go up on theirs. And be just as mentally tough, physically tough, just as tough scoring the ball inside and outside as they are,” Kent said. “So it just told me the growth potential that’s still in this team, if you can keep them consistent at a level, they still have tremendous growth potential.”

Senior guard DaVonte Lacy chipped in a team high 25 points. Lacy and Stanford guard Chasson Randle each had a big second half. Lacy scored 20 while Randle, the Pac-12's leading scorer, had 24 of his game-high 33 points after halftime.

“He’s a really great player and if he would’ve just kept going and going to stretch out the lead we couldn’t let that happen,” Lacy said. “So at a certain point I did say to myself like ‘hey he’s making big plays but he’s one of the best in the conference and if you think to yourself as one of the best in the conference then you got to do the same thing.’”

“That kind of triggered me into my inner-self, and my teammates did a great job of finding me and getting me open,” Lacy added. “It was a fun half.”

Kent recalls Lacy came over to the bench during the final six or seven minutes and told Kent to put him on Randle.

“So not only did he do it on the offensive end, I thought it was the difference in the game for us to get him (Randle) cooled down a little bit because he certainly went into his normal Superman routine in the second half and start to light everybody up," Kent said.

Next up for the Cougars is a 7 p.m. Thursday game at Oregon State. The state of Oregon swing is completed Sunday, Feb. 8 with a 4 p.m. matchup against the Ducks. Both games are televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

NOTABLE NOTES
  • -Starting lineup: Que Johnson, Ike Iroegbu, DaVonte Lacy, Josh Hawkinson, Jordan Railey.

  • Five players scored in double figures for the Cougars.

  • Redshirt senior Dexter Kernich-Drew played 28 minutes while junior guard Brett Boese only saw six minutes.

  • The Cougars scored 10 points off four Stanford turnovers.

  • Hawkinson finished the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds, his 13th double-double of the season.

  • Last home win against Stanford was Jan. 19, 2012.

  • Attendance was 3,073.


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