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Washington State tied at halftime with No. 15 Oregon but outscored 48-29 in second; Kent says energy drain led to mistakes in 85-66 loss

PULLMAN – The upstart Cougars played with energy, tempo and fluid transitions in the first half Saturday on the hardcourt vs. No. 15 Oregon – the game was tied at the break. But Washington State hit a wall in the second half with head man Ernie Kent saying the Cougs didn’t match the Ducks’ second half energy in the 85-66 loss. The biggest evidence of that?

Like the snow piling on outside Beasley, Oregon rained 3-pointers down on Wazzu. Oregon (15-2, 4-0) drilled 13-25 shots from beyond the arc (52 percent) while Washington State (9-6, 2-1) connected on 7 of 19 from downtown (37 percent). That's a difference of 18 points, one less than the final margin.

"In the second half they just wore us down, they're just too good of a team to give open looks," Kent told reporters after the loss. "There was a three-minute stretch there (in the first half) where we didn't take advantage of our opportunities.”

Wazzu needed to play with few mistakes and find a hot hand from the outside to overcome Oregon’s edge in athleticism – they did it for much of the first half but the Ducks showed the Cougs how far they need to go in the second, outscoring WSU 48-29.

“The energy would have given us a chance to play a little sharper, smarter basketball,” Kent told Matt Chazanow of the Cougar Radio Network.
 
Oregon played most of the game without star forward Dillon Brooks, ejected for kicking WSU senior forward Josh Hawkinson in the groin. Brooks had seven points in seven minutes but WSU led 16-15 when he was called for a flagrant foul 2.
 
"He was falling, and I obviously felt the kick… Brooks plays with a certain fire and passion in him," Hawkinson said. "We didn't really say anything, it was one of the weirdest plays I've ever seen.”
 
Hawkinson went 4 of 6 from the field with 10 points in 31 minutes. Ike Iroegbu led the Cougs with 12 points while Charles Callison (11) and Malachi Flynn (10) were also in double figures.
 
But Oregon seemed to find its rhythm when Conor Clifford got into foul trouble. The WSU senior picked up two quick calls in the closing minutes of the first half. Clifford fouled out and played 21 minutes. Oregon shot 44 percent from the field in the first, and 63 percent in the second. In the first half,

WSU outrebounded Oregon 18-14 in the first half and allowed only one offensive board. But the Ducks won the battle on the boards in the end and finished with a 5-1 advantage in offensive rebounds. Perimeter defense hurt the Cougs most, though, with Oregon effectively setting ball screens Wazzu couldn't get through in time.

Still, Washington State is playing light years better than it was earlier in the non-conference schedule.
 
"The crowd was great but in the second half our energy level went below theirs -- we just have to move past this," senior guard Charles Callison said. "Hopefully we'll see them in the Pac-12 championship.”

Kent told Chazanow the Cougs will be off until Tuesday to get their legs back with WSU having played three games in seven days.

UP NEXT: WSU at Stanford Thursday at 8 p.m. followed by a trip to Cal next Saturday at 1 p.m. Both games will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.

Ernie Kent


Charles Callison & Josh Hawkinson


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