“We’re not coaching for moral victories, we should have won this game,” Kent told Matt Chazanow on the Cougar Radio Network after the loss. “We missed somewhere in the vicinity of 20 wide open shots. Now that’s either too much sun, too much beach, shut it down, whatever you want to call it. But I expect more out of this group, particularly my veteran players … if we make half of those wide open shots, we probably win the game.”
Kent softened his words later in the interview.
“I can tell you what is accurately happening: If you can’t look at the performance we put forth down here, if anything negative is said about this performance, then people just don’t understand the game. For us to come down here … and play as well as we did -- controlled tempo, controlled the game, just missed shots -- it’s an indication of where we’re going,” said Kent.
Seniors Josh Hawkinson (7 of 11) and Charles Callison (10 of 17, pictured above) did have good shooting nights. But WSU collectively shot 42 percent from the floor including 9 of 27 from 3-point land. And Kent wasn’t exaggerating about the open looks that went begging, particularly in the first half. Callison finished with an impressive 25 points, while Hawkinson added to his all-time double-double record at WSU with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Ike Iroegbu had 10 points on 3 of 10 shooting. True freshman Malachi Flynn had one of those games were nothing would fall, finishing with 3 points on 1 of 11 shooting. Both Iroegbu and Flynn had 3 turnovers each.
“We had a four-point swing there when Malachi had a bad shot and a turnover, another four-point swing on a bad shot by Ike and a turnover, and there was the game … if you make some of those wide open shots you’ve got a whole different scenario being up 10, 12, 15 points,” said Kent.
In light of all the open misses, and fortunately for WSU, the Bruins weren’t exactly shooting lights out either. UCLA shot 44 percent on the night. The difference in the game came midway through the second half. Wazzu led UCLA 51-50 with 10:02 left but the Bruins scored the next 14 points to settle the issue.
WSU edged UCLA on the boards 38-37 and won the offensive glass 10-8. Hawkinson and Robert Franks (10 rebounds) led the way, with Franks playing 28 minutes after Conor Clifford picked up three quick fouls. Clifford played only nine minutes, finishing with 4 points on 2 of 3 shooting. WSU had a 17-5 edge in second-chance points.
“Robert Franks phenomenal in the game,” said Kent. Viont'e Daniels we got looks, I just thought everybody played well. Charles Callison had a spectacular game. Everybody played well. We just had mental lapses where we made some bad decisions on defense (and) we shot it at the wrong time.
“I’m proud of my guys because they played tremendous defense on this team in the first half and they were outstanding offensively … we just missed open shots and they were there.”
UP NEXT: WSU (10th seed) faces Colorado (7th seed) on Wednesday at 6 pm in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.
Pac-12 tournament (all times Pacific)
WEDNESDAY: FIRST ROUND
No. 8 Arizona State vs. No. 9 Stanford, noon (Pac-12 Network)
No. 5 Cal vs. No. 12 Oregon State, 2:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
No. 7 Colorado vs. No. 10 Washington State, 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
No. 6 USC vs. No. 11 Washington, 8:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
No. 1 Oregon vs. winner of Stanford/Arizona State, noon (Pac-12 Network)
No. 4 Utah vs. winner of Cal/Oregon State, 2:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
No. 2 Arizona vs. winner of Colorado/Washington State, 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
No. 3 UCLA vs. winner of USC/Washington, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
TBA vs. TBA, 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
TBA vs. TBA, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
TBA vs. TBA, 8 p.m. (ESPN)