Cougs ain't what they used to be

WASHINGTON STATE fans, uncertain of the caliber of their Cougars after 12 non-conference games, may have found out Saturday in Pullman. In the Pac-10 opener against Washington, the Cougs did what they did in their four previous losses this season.

They played tough in the first half, but couldn't close the deal in the second.

Against the Huskies, WSU trailed 30-28 at intermission and shut down UW standout Jon Brockman.

But as they did a week ago against LSU and earlier against Gonzaga and Pitt, the Cougs couldn't keep up in the second half.

The WSU defense had its lapses, but the stark reality is that this team has little in the way of offense.

Tony Bennett said he told his team at halftime that they'd have to win this one with defense.

They didn't.

"They (UW) took care of business and played a higher level of basketball," Bennett told the Cougar Radio Network.

The coach, who was 5-0 against the Huskies coming into this one, lamented breakdowns on defense.

But at the end of it all, the offense's inability to execute stood out.

Stone cold is an apt description. There is no three-point threat (2 of 10 today). There is no go-to guy. There is no consistency.

Simply, there is no bucket when you need one.

The Cougars lost their fifth game Saturday. In all five they trailed narrowly at halftime. The Cougs opened the second half with a basket to tie things at 30 and then proceeded to give up nine straight. And the game effectively was over.

"When it rains it pours," said Bennett, referring to the Huskies' nine-point run early in the final period and to LSU's late run in the final period a week ago. "Whether at the end of the game or the start of the second half it's hard to withstand those kinds of runs.

The Cougs narrowed the margin to five at one juncture, but the Dawgs expanded it to 10, 44-34, less than a minute later.

And so WSU's quest for an eighth straight win over the Huskies came to an ugly end, 68-48, in the snow-covered Palouse. WSU is now 8-5 on the year and the Huskies are 10-3.

Four Huskies hit double figures: Isaiah Thomas 19, Justin Dentmon 17, Quincy Pondexter 16 and Brockman 10. The Huskies hit 6 of 11 from beyond the arc.

The Cougars had two players in double figures: Taylor Rochestie 12 and Aron Baynes 11.

WSU now preps for Cal on Thursday and Stanford on Saturday. Both games will be in Pullman.

Bennett said it's time to regroup and perhaps look at re-jiggering his rotation a bit.


Baynes held Brockman, the Huskies' leading scorer, without a point until three minutes remained in the first half.

Baynes was perfect in the first half, 3-for-3 from the field, 2-for-2 from the charity line. He finished with 11 points.

Washington State, down 12 points with less than three minutes remaining, tried to get back in it by sending the Huskies to the foul line, allowing the Huskies to increase their advantage at the free throw stripe to a final tally of 68-48.

The Huskies were 3-for-6 on three-pointers in the first half, finishing at 6-for-12 for the game.

The Cougs had three blocks in the first half, one each by DeAngelo Casto, Caleb Forrest and Klay Thompson.

Both teams shot nearly identical percentages from the field in the first half, Washington State at 47.6 percent, the UW at 48.

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