PULLMAN – It’s not easy for any basketball team to win when it goes a quarter of the game without scoring. Washington State learned that lesson on Sunday, falling 64-62 to visiting Texas Christian University.
The Cougars (2-2) jumped out to an early 6-2 lead with 16:48 remaining in the first half. They wouldn’t score again until D.J. Shelton hit a pair of free throws after just over 10 minutes had passed off the clock, putting the Cougars in a an 18-6 hole.
Despite that early drought, the Cougars were able to make a game of it in the second half. Midway through the final period the Cougars went on a 12-4 run to cut TCU’s lead to 46-45 with 9:59 left in the game.
DaVonte Lacy gave WSU a 45-44 lead on his second 3-pointer in 22 seconds. The Horned Frogs promptly retook the lead on Kyan Anderson’s jumper and with 5.8 seconds left in the game Anderson hit a pair of free throws to give TCU a two-point lead.
Lacy – who led the Cougars with 18 points – took the ball the length of the court and drove to the basket.
“In those situations in practice we always talk about going to the rack and trying to finish or getting a call, but just not settling for a jump shot,” Lacy said. “That’s what I tried to do.”
But Lacy’s off-balance shot missed and no foul was called as the Cougars were unable to overcome their first-half scoring dearth.
“We just didn’t make shots,” guard Royce Woolridge said. “We got a lot of wide-open shots that we normally knock down but they just weren’t falling.”
Despite playing on a foreign court, the Horned Frogs (2-2) had no trouble making baskets at Beasley Coliseum. While TCU was outshot 30-21 in the first half, it made 14 shots. But the Cougars shot just 26.7 percent before halftime.
Three 3-pointers from Dexter Kernich-Drew stopped the bleeding for WSU, which trailed 36-25 at the break.
Those makes from behind the arc weren’t the norm, however. WSU made just 13 of 34 3-pointers in the game, yet continued to fire away from 3 in hopes of making something work against TCU’s 2-3 zone defense.
Unable to crack the zone, the Cougars were limited to just 10 points in the paint.
“We tried to get it in the paint but their zone was fairly tight. There’s give-and-take and you’ve got to take what they give,” WSU coach Ken Bone said. “When we did attack there were times that we weren’t getting what we wanted out of it, so we ended up settling for 3s.”
The Horned Frogs, conversely, had success with dribble penetration against WSU’s zone defense, scoring 34 points inside the key.
“They’re very good and determined to drive, and they’re pretty good at drawing the foul,” Bone said. “We knew that coming in.”
Amric Fields was one of three players who scored 16 points to lead TCU. The junior forward was not expected to play much in his first game back after missing the last year with a knee injury.
But Fields went 7 of 9 from the field and collected seven rebounds to contribute to TCU’s 34-24 advantage on the boards.
“It’s an area of concern because of our size and at times lack of quickness,” Bone said. “We work on it every single day, we watch video, and it’s too late to go recruit more players so we take the guys that we have in the program and try to continue to educate them and motivate them to do a great job of rebounding. I think their effort’s there.”