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WSU shows its inexperience


COUGARS

For once this season, the Washington State Cougars played their age. And an experienced Arizona State team did as well. It all added up to a 71-46 beating for the Cougars, snapping a six-game winning streak against the Devils. You can read the unedited game story on the link, which explains the starting lineup changes.


••••••••••

• Here’s the gamer …

TEMPE, Ariz. – Sometimes a box score can tell the entire story of a college basketball game. Sometimes it only scratches the surface.

The latter was the case Sunday afternoon before 6,433 at the Wells Fargo Arena, where the Washington State University Cougars suffered their worst defeat in nearly four years, 71-46, to Arizona State.

The Cougars had no one in double figures.

They shot 29.8 percent for the game, had just six assists on their 17 baskets, allowed ASU to shoot 50.8 percent, 56.3 in the second half, and were outscored 38-21 after halftime. It all added up to their biggest beat down since Feb. 18, 2006, a 67-37 loss at Oregon.

But the most telling aspect of the box is the listed starters. Sophomore post Charlie Enquist made his first career start, freshman Xavier Thames his second.

They were on the court for the opening tip because Marcus Capers and James Watson were late for the morning walk-through at 8:30 on Sunday morning and DeAngelo Casto was late for the bus to the arena, according to coach Ken Bone.

It was the second time this season a disciplinary change had to be made to the lineup. The last time, however, in Alaska, WSU was able to overcome the disruption. Not this time.

“I think it’s usually detrimental to what you are trying to accomplish,” Bone said of having to throw a different lineup on the court, “and I believe it was (today).

“Nothing against the guys who started in place of the other kids, but it just kind of messes up your rotations. Then it was capitalized on Klay (Thompson) getting his second foul.”

The Sun Devils, who lost their first two Pacific 10 Conference games on the road but are now 2-2, took advantage of both to snap a six-game losing streak against the Cougars.

Though WSU (12-4, 2-2) jumped to a 7-1 lead – it could have been even more but the Cougars missed six early open shots – before ASU coach Herb Sendek could get a time out.

Whatever he said worked, as the Sun Devils (12-5 overall) put together a 16-0 run helped by nine consecutive empty WSU possessions – five quick misses and four turnovers.

When Reggie Moore, who was 2 of 10 from the floor and finished with eight points and three assist, converted one of two free throws 9 minutes, 18 seconds in to snap the streak, the Devils still led by nine.

“We came out flat and with no energy,” said senior Nik Koprivica. “When you mess up the routine we’re used to, it kind of shows that – I’m not pointing at any guys – but it’s just like (we’re) a little relaxed and we’ll come to the game late, late for this, late for that, at the game everything will be alright.”

It wasn’t.

Yet despite the slow start, despite Thompson sitting for 7 minutes with the foul trouble, and despite allowing ASU to get free for three 3-pointers in a less than 3-minute stretch, the Cougars still pulled within six, 31-25, on Moore’s drive with 1:34 left.

Then they got a stop.

And Thompson tried to take advantage, taking the ball to the hole. Guard Ty Abbott, who led everyone with 17 points and 11 rebounds despite being 6-foot-3, came over and blocked the shot, leading to Bone exhorting the officials for a goal-tend call. It didn’t come.

“Apparently it wasn’t,” Bone said. “It would have been a sweet basket to get.”

Instead ASU’s 6-10 Eric Boateng, who powered inside for 11 points and nine rebounds, followed his own miss on the other end and the Devils took a 33-25 lead into the locker room.

They came out, went on a 8-2 run, built a cushion, and expanded the lead throughout the second half as WSU, despite a multitude of different lineups – all 13 Cougars played – couldn’t find a combination that worked.

“ASU played well and we didn’t,” Bone said when asked what happened after halftime.

Thompson thought the offensive problems were just as simple, personally and as a team.

“I just didn’t hit shots,” said the sophomore, who came in averaging 23.9, best in the Pac-10, but scored just nine. “We didn’t finish around the rim or hit outside jumpers.”

“He missed some,” Sendek said of Thompson, who finished 3 of 11 from the floor, 1 of 5 from beyond the arc, but led WSU with eight rebounds. “He missed a few tonight on another night he’ll make. That old adage is true: Things are rarely as good or bad as they seem.”

They were to Koprivica, WSU’s lone upperclassman. But he hopes the young Cougars learned a lesson.

“I don’t think the score shows they are that much better than we are,” he said. “But it shows if we don’t come out 100 percent and we don’t do the things we are supposed to do, anybody can beat us by a lot.

“We’re just not a good enough team to just go through the motions.”

•••

• That’s it for now. As I said, I have to catch a flight so we’ll do the big post tomorrow. Until then …


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