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Kent: WSU wounds in loss self-inflicted

ERNIE KENT on the postgame radio show gave props to Stanford, saying the Cardinal played a very good game in securing a 72-56 win over Washington State (9-17, 1-13). But Kent also said WSU's issues aren't about the opponent as much as they're about the Cougs beating themselves.

"Quite frankly, it's more about us... the bad turnovers, or a bad play here or missed rotation there -  that's not your opponent, that's us. We're out of sync right now," Kent told radio play-by-play man Matt Chazanow after WSU's losing streak reached 12 games.

Kent said in the immediate future, he and the coaching staff will "rethink some things and look at some different rotations" for Cal on Sunday.  In the bigger picture, Kent indicated he doesn't intend to stand pat there either. 

"You call it being handcuffed as a coach, because you start wanting to do some things that you can't do. But the other side of that is we are the coaches, we are the teachers, we are the recruiters. So we've got to understand what we need to do and take some ownership as well, too. And we may need to tweak it again to get it to where it needs to get to, but obviously we're missing some pieces... in terms of the productivity (and) just in terms of skill set," said Kent.

As one example, Kent said there have been many times center Conor Clifford is open on the low block, but the ball doesn't get to him.

Clifford grimaced at times against Stanford, ostensibly gutting his way through an ankle injury that wasn't yet 100 percent. He scored nine points on 4 of 5 shooting.  Josh Hawkinson secured his 18th double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Que Johnson chipped in 14 points.

But the main storyline coming out of this loss was found on the other end of the court.

WSU's inability to overcome screens on defense allowed Stanford (13-11, 6-7) wide open looks from long range -- the Cardinal hit three consecutive 3-pointers early in the first half to claim a lead they'd never relinquish.

Stanford tailed off in the second half from downtown but that was more about the Cardinal missing open shots than WSU clamping down on D. Stanford scored 27 points from beyond the arc (9-24).

Meanwhile, WSU displayed far better passing and ball movement, especially early on -- the ball just didn't go in the bucket enough in the first half. The Cougs shot 29 percent from the floor and faced an 11-point deficit at the break.

WSU came out of the locker room on fire, cutting the lead to 37-35 at the 16:18 mark. And WSU shot a scalding 62 percent from the floor after the break. But two things to note: 1) the Cougs fell out of rhythm after their 11-2 run to start the second half, allowing Stanford to methodically walk the lead back up to double digits and 2) for as well as WSU shot the ball, it was still outscored in the second half 37-32.

"The frustrating thing about this is I thought we were good enough to win the game," Kent said. "And again there were times in the game when we, we shot ourselves in the foot once again.

"At different times, different pieces step up and play -- they get going and another guy drop down, and then when that guy comes back up, this guy drops down. If we can ever get them all on the same page at the same time - that's been the frustrating thing I think with this group. "

With s Sunday game on tap (Senior Day for Cougars Junior Longrus and Brett Boese), Kent said he'll give the players Friday off. When they next hit the practice court on Saturday, Kent said his message to the Cougs will be to come out "fight like crazy" for the seniors against Cal. It would be a nice way to finish up in front of the home crowd, and to get a win for the first time since Jan. 3.

"We are building a basketball team and more importantly we are building a basketball program -- rebuilding I should say. And unfortunately we did it in a year where everyone in the conference stepped up... and we did not step up with them," said Kent.

NOTABLE NOTES:
--Ike Iroegbu ran the point for much of the game, finishing with 5 points, the third straight game the Cougs' second-leading scorer has been held to single figures. The junior guard did, however, tie his career high with 7 rebounds while dishing 4 assists. Junior point guard Charles Callison missed his third straight game with a concussion.

--WSU plays at Beasley for the last time this season Sunday at 5:30 p.m. vs. Cal (TV: ESPN U).


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