Kent says Cougs kick away a UCLA upset

ERNIE KENT TOLD HIS staff and players after Sunday night's 72-67 loss at UCLA there were a minimum of 50 basketball plays on both sides of the ball that the Cougars left on the floor. The Cougars' first-year coach said this was another game where Washington State failed to put its feet on the opponent and bury them.

The Cougars (12-16, 6-10) led by as many as seven points in the first half. They held the lead for more than 24 of the game's 40 minutes. But in the end, WSU's inability to turn a seven-point lead into 14 when the opportunity presented cost the Cougars an upset chance.

UCLA (18-12, 10-7) was able to stay in the game and eventually pull ahead in the final 10 minutes due to the 16 turnovers and plays left out on the floor by WSU.

“In my opinion, we had a chance again, similar to the SC game to really put our feet on their throat and we didn’t do it in the game because we left so many plays,” Kent said in his post-game radio interview. “What I mean by that is there is a play to be made and we throw it away, kick it away, throw it away to them, don’t see the play, over dribble it, or we take a bad shot.”

“So it’s going to make them (his players) sick because again the game is devised of basketball plays: 2-on-1, 3-on-2s. I don’t care if you’re in half court, full court. You got to be able to see the play, and make the play, and that’s where we’re at,” Kent said.

He added that he and his staff have helped the players get in the position to make a lot of plays, yet the team just didn’t execute them tonight.

WSU also had trouble containing UCLA senior guard Norman Powell, who shot 10 of 17 from the field and ended up with a career-high 28 points.

“He had I think 28 points, I guarantee 22 of them were layups and that’s just a matter I talk about making plays. When you’ve got a defensive game plan to gap someone, cushion them as I call it, and not let them drive, make them shoot it,” Kent said. “We put the zone on them to slow them down. We couldn’t stop them anyway in the game just in terms of a guy that could lock him (Powell) up, not give him so many layups in the game, unfortunately. It cost us.”

Senior guard DaVonte Lacy finished the night shooting 7 of 15 from the field and scored 21 points. He passed former CouGreat and current Golden State guard Klay Thompson for first on WSU’s career 3-point list with 243.

“It’s pretty cool,” Lacy said. “I think it’ll sink in probably tomorrow or on the flight home, but right now it just kind of sucks because we had that game.”

The senior also said unforced turnovers hurt his team the most against UCLA.

“Just bad passes straight out of bounds or not good reads,” Lacy said. “It just hurts because we’ve made those plays before, and it sucks we didn’t make them today because we had a lead and we should’ve won that game, but all credit to the Bruins, they came out. They didn’t let us make those mistakes and still win. They took advantage of it and score off them.”

The Bruins scored 17 points off of 16 WSU turnovers.

Also breaking a WSU record was Josh Hawkinson, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds, a school-record 18th double-double of the season..

The Cougars played the season's final road game against UCLA. Next up is the final home stand, starting at 8 p.m. Thursday against Utah, a game televised on ESPNU. Saturday, it's Colorado at 3:30 p.m., a game shown on the Pac-12 Networks

“It’s the seniors’ two last home games. It becomes very imperative that the underclassmen do not let them lose at home in their last two home games,” Kent said. “It’s really a passing of the torch. In essence the underclassmen need to step up and carry the seniors so they can go out and go out winners in their last two games, and at the same time understand their responsibility and leadership they have to have as underclassmen as they take the reigns of the program going forward.”

Lacy also understands what lies ahead for him this week.

“To be honest I don’t really want to look forward to it because I know it’s going to be emotional,” Lacy said. “I just want to stay focused on Utah and try to get a win.”

The senior added that he might even shed a tear when he steps on the floor for the final time Saturday in Beasley Coliseum.

  • Junior guard Brett Boese hit his first 3-pointer in seven games for the Cougars. He saw 15 minutes of action and finished with six points.

  • The Cougars were outscored 38-18 in the paint.

  • Lacy also passed Mark Hendrickson (1993-96) for sixth on WSU's career scoring list. Lacy trails No. 5, Brock Motum, by 24 points.

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