Cougs paint themselves into a corner in 70-54 loss at home to New Orleans

THE COUGARS were the bigger team on the hardcourt Saturday. They didn’t act like it. New Orleans (4-3) owned the paint against Washington State (4-4) and controlled the game throughout. Indeed, the Cougs needed a rebounding surge in the final minute just to log 20 boards as the Privateers cruised to a 70-54 win over WSU in Beasley.

Coming off arguably its best game of the season in a win over Utah Valley, WSU was outmuscled and outhustled by a New Orleans squad whose tallest player stood 6-9. 

WSU never led against the midmajor that was thumped by Southern Cal 88-54 last week.  The win was the first for New Orleans against a Pac-12 team since 1998.

Offensively, the Cougs couldn’t or wouldn't get the ball into their bigs, settling for long jumpers that missed the mark more often than not.  Wazzu shot 42 percent from the floor, and hit just 4 of 19 treys (21 percent).

On the other end of the court, New Orleans had little trouble against a flat-footed Cougar D with a number of easy buckets. 

The Privateers shot a scalding 54 percent from the floor, outrebounded the Cougs 36-20 (including 10-4 on the offensive end) and won the battle in the paint 38-30.

Josh Hawkinson finished with 13 points but his customary double-double went begging with six rebounds. Sophomore Robert Franks scored a career-high 16 points on 5 of 8 shooting and Ike Iroegbu reached double figures for the fifth time this season with 11 points.

The Cougars host Idaho on Wednesday before hitting the road to face Kansas State in the Wildcat Classic on Saturday.

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