Cougs can't sustain early success against OSU

ERNIE KENT COMPARED his team to an automobile after Thursday night's 55-50 loss to Oregon State. But not exactly a car running on all cylinders. Kent said his team was playing with two wheels instead of four because multiple Cougars weren't on their 'A' game. Washington State stuck in there, but didn't have the firepower during the stretch to pull out the win.

The Cougars (10-12, 4-6) were on all four wheels early, opening up a 21-12 lead midway through the first half, building the advantage by preventing the Beavers (15-7, 6-4) from getting easy shots.

“You looked at a ball game where we executed our game plan that first 12-13 minutes of the game,” Kent said. “That’s as well as we’ve played defensively all year. This is a team that they don’t score very well so you have to defend them. Then the momentum changed in the game when we started slip mentally and gave them an opportunity to get easy buckets, turn the ball over at one end. I thought we gave them complete control of the game and we didn’t need to do that in that first half.”

The Cougars' nine-point lead slipped to only 32-30 by halftime as the Beavers closed the first half on an 18-11 run.

Washington State and Oregon State went back and forth for most of the second half, but the Cougars would eventually break down toward the end of the game. Senior center Jordan Railey and junior forward Junior Longrus both fouled out during the final five minutes of the game. The Cougars couldn't keep pace, and in the end, needed a boost from leading scorer DaVonte Lacy that he was unable to provide Thursday. The senior guard made just 2 of 10 shots and scored five points against OSU. It was Lacy's lowest output in a Pac-12 game this season.

“As the game got into the last 10 minutes we did not pay attention to detail and consequently you gave (Jordan) Reid easy drives to the bucket,” Kent said. “Jordan (Railey) fouls out with what I call two bad fouls that he didn’t need to make. We needed Jordan on the floor and then Junior fouls out of this game. That’s us, that’s us and not paying attention to detail, game plan that got us to this point in the game. Lesson learned we’ll look at film and regroup and get ready for the Ducks.”

WSU out-rebounded the Beavers 43-34. Josh Hawkinson led the Cougars with 10 boards. WSU also grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, leading to 16 second-chance points.

“I thought we did a much better job this time of blocking out and handling the defensive end of the floor and even got some rebounds on the offensive end of the floor,” Kent said. “When you talk about us getting 12 offensive rebounds, they had nine offensive rebounds so you did the job there, but they’re tough at home.”

The Cougars play at Oregon at 4 p.m. Sunday. The game is televised on Pac-12 Networks.

“The good thing is you have a couple of days and these are young kids,” Kent said “They’ll be fine on Sunday. This was not an up and down fast paced basketball game, it was a physical game with the defensive end of the floor but they should have great legs for Sunday.”

Though Kent will be returning to Eugene to coach against his alma mater, he believes people are making too much of his return to Eugene.

“People keep continuing to say emotional return and all that,” Kent said. “I think people are making too big of a deal out of that because again it’s been four years since I’ve been at Oregon. I’ve been back there and done TV and done the media. It’s not like I’ve been in a foreign country. I’ve been in the building, I know people there. The emotion for me is getting this team ready to get another win on the road.”

  • Hawkinson notched his 14th double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

  • The Cougars lost for the first time in nine games after leading at halftime.

  • The loss was WSU's first this season by five points or less.

  • Longrus tied a career high with eight rebounds.

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