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HOOPS: Cougar D goes missing in loss

ERNIE KENT cited a series of “blown defensive assignments” midway through the second half that led to the 86-77 loss to USC before changing his mind a bit. “Maybe I shouldn’t use the word blown, they (USC) just stepped up and made big plays,” Kent told Matt Chazanow on the Cougar Radio Network. But there was no getting around WSU’s second half defense in the box score.

To say the Cougs’ defense let them down doesn’t quite capture it -- USC shot a scalding 74 percent from the floor in the second half. 

For the game, the Trojans shot 57 percent.

Washington State fell to 11-12 overall, 4-7 Pac-12 while USC improved to 20-4 (7-4 Pac-12).  Kent cited fatigue and mental mistakes at crunch time.

“When we needed to step it up, we didn’t do it,” said Kent.

Washington State made a charge in the second half from a 10-point deficit, a dunk by Josh Hawkinson gave the Cougars a 59-57 lead at the 10:17 mark. 

But from that point on, USC scored at will.  Trailing by a deuce, the Trojans put together the decisive 15-2 run that Kent referenced and WSU found itself in a deep hole trailing 72-61 with 6:33 left.

USC simply had more runs than the Cougs over the course of the game.  Among the more decisive, a 10-2 Trojan run at the end of the first half gave USC a 38-33 lead going into the locker room.  WSU opened the game on a 14-3 run and made 5 of its first 11 3-point attempts.

Senior guard Ike Iroegbu came close to a double-double, with 22 points on 9 of 17 shooting and 9 assists.  He had just two turnovers.

Hawkinson did post a double-double, with 17 points and 16 rebounds.

But while Jeff Pollard was a bright spot with 6 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes, WSU was outscored 22-12 in points off the bench. 

UP NEXT: WSU at Utah on Thursday.


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