WSU's Kent: It's not losing, it's learning

ERNIE KENT refuses to call it losing. Instead, he insists, it's learning. In that spirit, Washington State extended their ‘learning streak’ to 13 games at the hands of Cal, 80-62, on Sunday night in the Cougs' regular season home finale.

The losing-- scratch that, learning streak, is now the fifth-longest in WSU program history. 

“It’s not losing,” Kent insisted to WSU radio play-by-play man Matt Chazanow on the postgame radio show.  “It’s learning. You’re learning what you have to do. You’re learning how to build. You’re learning what other pieces you need in your program… It’s a learning process for us. We’re 24 months on the job, not even 24 months on the job.”

For the second postgame radio interview in a row, Kent hinted at offseason roster changes beyond the graduating seniors saying,  “We may have to tweak personnel a bit,” and that this will be “a critical, critical offseason for us.”

“I’m not going to give up on them whatsoever. But it is a matter of we’ve got to get better, And we’ve got to get better in a lot of areas,” said Kent.

Cal took an early 12-2 lead on Sunday. And when you allow a team in the first half to shoot around 60 percent from the field and 3-point land, double-digit losses usually follow.

Que Johnson led the Cougs with 17 points. But Washington State made it a point to go inside often, and found some success early on. Eight of Conor Clifford’s 12 points came in the first half. Josh Hawkinson for the game had 12 points along with 7 rebounds.

WSU cut the lead to nine at the half but came out of the locker room flat. Cal went on a 6-0 run and it only got worse. WSU trailed by 23 points with seven minutes left.  

Junior guard Ike Iroegbu continued to struggle, the Cougs’ second-leading scorer was held to 7 points on 2 of 9 shooting, his fourth straight game under 10 points.  If you're looking for a sliver of positive news, the Cougs committed only 7 turnovers. But, as Kent said to Chazanow, there were still far too many lapses for the Cougs to mount a serious challenge against the Bears.

For the game, Cal shot 58 percent from the floor while the Cougs shot 40 percent.  Cal was 10-18 (56 percent) from 3-point range, WSU was 6-16 (38 percent).

Kent expressed his deep appreciation for the crowd support, asked for the fans and alums to “hang in there with us,” and pointed to better days ahead.

“It’s not easy on us, it’s not easy on them either to come in here and see loss after loss after loss,” said Kent.

Next up: WSU plays at Oregon on Wednesday (7 pm, Pac-12 Networks).

With a loss Wednesday in Eugene, the Cougs would match the 14-game skid in Paul Graham’s final season in 2002-03. The next longest losing streak in program history is 15 games, from Graham's first season at WSU (1999-2000). 

-Seniors Junior Longrus and Brett Boese were honored before the game in a ceremony.

-Cal outscored WSU 40-31 in each half.

-True freshman guard Viont'e Daniels got his second career start, finishing with 5 points. WSU has now used 13 different starting lineups in 27 games this season.

Junior point Charles Callison did not play for the fourth-straight game (concussion).

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