EUGENE – The Washington State men’s basketball team frustrated the Pac-12’s highest-scoring offense, rebounded well and held off comeback attempts on the road Sunday night.
Unfortunately for WSU, the game didn’t end at halftime.
Oregon’s full-court pressure defense and relentless shooting in the second half buried the Cougars, who fell 67-53 in front of 8,702 delighted fans.
WSU (9-18, 2-13 Pac-12) led 31-24 at the half thanks to great performance from D.J. Shelton, who already had 12 points and eight rebounds. Led by the senior, who was on his way to his 10th double-double this season, WSU outrebounded the Ducks 18-8.
“We held them to 24 points, we were real active,” Shelton said. “We threw a lot of things at them (defensively): our zone, our man and were just pressuring them and making them take tough shots.
The Cougars had the ball to start the second half but Shelton’s inbounds pass was stolen by Mike Moser, who threw down a tone-setting dunk. It was a symbolic play as Shelton’s early success gave way to Moser’s dominance.
The UNLV transfer made 3-pointers on three straight possessions on his way to 11 points over the first 2 minutes of the second half. His 15 second-half points nearly matched the Cougars’ 22.
“He started hitting 3s, just consecutive, we sort of closed out short on him and didn’t expect him to shoot it and he hit us with it, especially on rotations, too, so he was really effective with it,” Shelton said. “Then he came in, got some good rebounds and was just plain active.”
Meanwhile, WSU’s early defensive success paled next to UO’s offense-generating pressure. The Ducks scored 14 points off turnovers in the second half while the Cougars managed just two. UO outscored the Cougars 43-22 in the second half and made 7 of 12 3-point attempts.
Joseph Young also found his shooting touch in the second half, making 3 of 5 3-point attempts after going without a field goal in the first half.
“When guys hit shots it makes the defense look bad,” coach Ken Bone said. “(Moser) stepped out and hit a couple and a couple of guys were putting the ball in the basket but part of that was due to our lack of taking care of the ball and that allowed them to get some easy ones in the quarter court.”
Even when the Cougars did break UO’s press they seemed anxious offensively. They struggled to score either via fast break or in their offense.
WSU turned the ball over 17 times and made just 15 field goals in 46 attempts. The Cougars were successful in the first half when playing with the lead, but lost the ball three times in the first 3 minutes after halftime and spent the entire second half trying to mount a comeback.
“The second half they definitely pressured us a little bit more and we turned the ball over a lot more in the second half,” guard Royce Woolridge said. “Once we turned the ball over they started getting buckets and it led to a huge run.”
DaVonte Lacy drew particular attention from the Ducks, allowing his teammates to flourish in the first half. The Cougars became irate after one play in which Young stole the ball from Lacy while appearing to hit the WSU guard in the face. With no whistle, Young fed Elgin Cook for a fast-break dunk.
Minutes later Lacy hit a 3-pointer while drawing a foul on Moser, hitting a free throw following a timeout to complete the rare four-point play.
Lacy didn’t play in WSU’s first matchup against the Ducks, a 71-44 defeat in Pullman.
On Sunday, UO was missing starter Damyean Dotson, who was suspended after allegedly trying to enter a tavern with fake identification.
Oregon 67, Washington St. 53
Percentages: FG .326, FT .773. 3-Point Goals: 6-22, .273 (Lacy 2-5, Shelton 2-6, Boese 1-4, Johnson 1-4, Woolridge 0-1, DiIorio 0-1, Iroegbu 0-1). Team Rebounds: 9. Blocked Shots: 3 (Shelton, Kernich-Drew, Railey). Turnovers: 17 (Shelton 4, Lacy 4, Woolridge 3, Longrus 3, Railey, Iroegbu, Kernich-Drew). Steals: 2 (Lacy, Woolridge). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .478, FT .667. 3-Point Goals: 11-20, .550 (Moser 5-7, Young 3-6, Calliste 2-6, Loyd 1-1). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 8 (Moser 4, Amardi, Cook, Loyd, Austin). Turnovers: 9 (Calliste 2, Young 2, Carter, Abdul-Bassit, Amardi, Loyd, Artis). Steals: 10 (Young 3, Calliste 2, Loyd 2, Moser, Cook, Amardi). Technical Fouls: None.
Halftime—WSU 31-24. A—8,702.