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Sunday, May 26, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Video: Ernie Kent after UW

ERNIE KENT

(Opening Statement)

My statement ill begin with is the atmosphere in the building and something we've been striving to feel and see. And I thought the atmosphere was just fantastic. The roar in the building was there, you've got your president of the university there, your governor in town. I jus thought it was fantastic to have that kind of energy and that kind of support that would turn out to be just a great college basketball game.

For that young team to play as well as they played in this environment, that's a credit again to Lorenzo and how he coaches that young group of guys. I thought when they were up 10 coming down the stretch and that roar roared up in the building, it gave us the opportunity to close out the game and send it into overtime. And that's where our fans need to understand, that's how important it is that we have that crowd there because it gives you a chance to do that. I think we pretty much fouled out their whole team and they still kept their composure. And the game came down, really literally came down in a heavyweight match to free throw shooting. They miss six, we miss 14 and there was the difference in the game. Ike played his tail off, Josh played his tail off.

I thought Renard played well, Brett. I mean, on their side, they had tremendous performance. It was just really a competitive good game between two rival schools and the difference in the game was their ability to knock down really some clutch free throws and our ability to miss some. And miss some front ends, miss one of our two shots. It really could've maybe given us an opportunity to get some control of the game coming own the stretch and in overtime.

(How to fix free throws?)

It's not a prescription. We shoot them, we're a good free throw shooting team. You could look at it and say — whether it's new guys in their first rival games. But they're young guys in their first rival games. So it's not a prescription, you've just got to go through it. Sometimes, you've got to go through some failure to get some success. But it's not like we're a bad free throw shooting team night in, night out. … We shoot them every day. We put pressure on ourselves to shoot them, we just missed them in this game. Some of it might have had to do with fatigue or whatever, but we missed them.

(Does it become harder to make free throws once players see their teammates miss?)

Athletes don't think like that, players don't think that way. I guarantee you, having been a player, that's never on your mind. You get up and it's your turn to shoot and you go up and shoot them. I thought there was some fatigue out there because we were worn a little bit, spent a little bit and that had something to do it with maybe. But athletes don't think, we don't think that way.

(Thoughts on pressing in the second half?)

The biggest thing with the pressing was we were pressing all along. I thought the biggest difference was the crowd roared up and their youth and inexperience took some rushed shots, they didn't get back in transition and it gave us a chance to attack and get some layups and get some buckets and we got back in the game to close it out to go into overtime. That had to do with the crowd giving us energy, the crowd maybe fueling the run. But also the crowd put a little bit more pressure on them and they kind of got a little bit rattled too. But they regained their composure in overtime. Andrews has done a fantastic job of leading a group of young guys. His leadership is really, really evident on the floor.

(What shot did you want on the last possession?)

Exactly that. We put it in his hands and the ball rattled around. It was a really good shot, he cleared himself nicely. I'll have to look at tape because I thought Josh got a little bit hampered on the rebound, but the call was not there. But Ike did a good job of getting a look. So there was a situation where they had missed, it would've been great if he had a lane to the basket. He did not, so he did a nice stepback and the ball just rattled in and out.

(On Iroegbu)

I thought Ike played as hard as he could play and really did a nice job. I mean he had a career night. And Hawkinson with 21 points, 20 rebounds. They played as hard as they could play. Unfortunately, we came out on the short end and it didn't come down to bad defense, it didn't come down to lack of confidence. It didn't, it came down to bad free throw shooting in a hard, hard-fought battle. It was a great game and a great environment. They made theirs, we didn't make ours down the stretch and that was the difference — literally the difference in the game.

(On Izundu's status)

He's kind of week-to-week. We'll take a look at him at the end of the week and everything. It would've been a game to have him with so many drives to the basket. But it also gave us an opportunity to play without him, because I thought Conor was pretty effective in the game at times, too. It would've been a better game to have Que and Derrien King on their games, because I just felt like we needed more energy on the floor, but yet it was very hard to get those other guys off the floor because they were playing so well. And you make rotations and rotations don't respond, you've got to go back to guys.

(On the switch to zone)

They scored seven out of eight straight times in a row in man-to-man and usually when you do that, you go zone. We did that coming out of the timeout, they had like 19 seconds on the shot clock, they shot an airball. Then they came down and missed again, then they got kind of filling in again against the zone and we switched back.

(On keeping Clifford out of the game with four fouls)

Defense. We felt like again, they went to a small lineup where he's not effective defending. And they were putting us on a lot of ball screens. I thought Junior played really well in the game for a guy not playing a lot of minutes. And then Junior's just a better defensive player than Conor, so when he's not scoring and there are two or three rebounding opportunities where he was right there and didn't get the rebound, then you need to make some changes and do something different with him. So the decision was made because they went small, we had to go a little bit small-ball a little bit too as well.

(On trying to get UW guys to foul out)

We tried like crazy to get Andrews out of the game because we knew he had the ability to control the game down the stretch. I felt like we fouled out three or four of their guys. They kept bringing bodies in there and so it worked, because we were in attack mode and we were sending guys out of the game. And again, to Andrews' credit, he kept himself away from fouling. He idd a good job of staying away from that ball and defending the ball as much as we tried to get the ball in the hands of the guy he was guarding. And it kept him in the game and he made some key free throws obviously down the stretch. But we are conscious of what's going on and we are trying to attack people that have the four fouls to put pressure on their play.

(On UW's fouling habits)

With that young of a team, the best thing for them to do is take that youthful energy and play hard and go up the line and take chances and gamble and get you spread out and attack you. So you're going to have some fouls in those situations. They will get better as time goes on, but they handled themselves well for their first true road game and a rival game for those young guys. They did a good job.




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Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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