TUCSON, Ariz. – This was a loss the Washington State Cougars might feel for a while.
The game didn’t go so well, either.
But WSU’s 85-61 loss to Arizona at the McKale Center on Thursday night may not impact the Cougars’ season the same as the potential loss of senior guard Faisal Aden, who left the game in the first half after bending his left knee awkwardly while attacking the basket.
Coach Ken Bone said afterward that Aden has a sprained MCL in his left knee, but didn’t have any other details. It’s not yet known how much time he might miss, though Bone said he doubts Aden will be able to play Saturday against Arizona State.
Aden drove toward the rim against Jordin Mayes in the open court with about four minutes to play in the first half. Replays showed his left knee buckled badly as he took off. He was eventually helped to the locker room by two WSU staffers.
Aden scored 33 points against Stanford and 24 points against California in two WSU wins last week, performances that earned him Pac-12 Player of the Week honors.
Without him, the Cougars (11-9, 3-5 Pac-12) had very little offense against an Arizona team that outmuscled them with aggressive man-to-man defense.
And with or without him, there was no combating a Wildcats team that made 15 of 26 attempts from 3-point range and assisted on 23 of 30 made field goals.
“The way Arizona played tonight,” Bone lamented, “I’m not sure it would have made any difference. But it definitely didn’t help us.”
“You can’t bank this loss on Faisal going down,” freshman guard DaVonte Lacy said. “We should have just stayed together. They came out and hit, what, 15 3s? And we only had 18 field goals. They shot the lights out.”
WSU struggled even with Aden on the floor, making just nine of 24 shots in the first half and finishing the game with a 34.6 percent field-goal percentage. But it was after Aden’s injury when the Wildcats (14-7, 5-3) really put this one away.
Brock Motum, who led WSU with 18 points, had a shot goaltended with 3:45 to play in the first half that pulled WSU within 28-24. But Arizona closed the half on a 14-3 run and led 42-27 at halftime, and no thoughts existed of the Cougars coming back after that.
Their biggest issue was defense, and a lack thereof. That was true with Aden and without him. Arizona guard Kyle Fogg keyed the run, making four 3-pointers in the first half to finish with 20 points.
“I thought they executed really, really well,” Bone said, “and there were times we did a pretty good job of taking away their interior, but their bigs were unselfish enough to just kick it out to their guards for shots.”
The barrage continued in the second half. Josiah Turner sparked a quick run that put Arizona ahead 48-29, and the Wildcats built their lead to 61-41 before WSU responded.
The Cougars used a technical foul against Turner to spark a seven-point possession with 10 minutes remaining, cutting the lead to 61-48.
Arizona’s next possession summed up the Cougars’ night. The Wildcats missed three jumpers – two of them 3-pointers – but rebounded each miss, and Solomon Hill wound up drawing a foul and making two free throws.
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