January 27, 2014 in Sports

Cougars’ offense still basket case

WSU makes two buckets inside arc
By The Spokesman-Review
Associated Press photo

Oregon’s Dominic Artis passes around WSU’s Will DiIorio after driving the baseline.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

PULLMAN – Coach Ken Bone and the Washington State men’s basketball team spent 15 minutes talking in the locker room after Sunday’s 71-44 loss to Oregon.

They talked about staying focused in spite of a seven-game stretch that has produced just one win, about preparing for Saturday’s game against Washington, and about how UO (14-5, 2-5 Pac-12) is better than its record.

“The mood of the locker room is basically we’ve just got to stay together and just keep working hard,” guard Royce Woolridge said. “Just get better, and we might have lost a couple games in a row but if we hold our heads down it’s just going to get worse.”

And most importantly they talked about making shots, a fundamental requirement that has eluded the Cougars (8-12, 1-7) often this season.

“If a guy has never been able to prove it, I understand it,” Bone said. “Maybe the level’s a little too high. The quickness, the length, the athleticism of the opponent – it’s hard to get shots off. I’ve seen it before.

“But we have guys that have proven they can shoot it and get their shot off at this level and shoot it at a pretty decent percentage and unfortunately this year we have not done it.”

Que Johnson’s nine points led the Cougars, who were outrebounded 43-24. At halftime UO had nine offensive rebounds to WSU’s five defensive rebounds. WSU also struggled at the line, hitting just 16 of 25 attempts.

The Cougars made just two 2-point field goals and sank 8 of 26 3-point attempts. While WSU’s guards were often able to find open shooters behind the arc, even open looks were a challenge.

“We’re getting some pretty good shots,” Bone said. “At the free-throw line they’re wide open, they’re not contesting them and we’re not shooting real well from there either. At some point guys have to make some shots.”

WSU has averaged just over 49 points in the seven Pac-12 games it’s played without leading scorer DaVonte Lacy. Earlier in the season Bone said that Lacy might able to return from his rib injury by Saturday’s game against UW, but that looks unlikely.

Lacy has yet to return to practice save for some individual shooting drills and a few minutes in a passing drill.

The Ducks entered the game ranked last in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, giving up 77.9 points per game. But WSU, the lowest-scoring team in the conference by nearly 10 points, had one of its worst offensive nights of the season.

In front of 3,866 fans, the Cougars made just 10 total field goals, and were saved from an even more uncomfortable final margin by Brett Boese’s two 3-pointers over the game’s final 1:13. The Ducks made 26 field goals to snap a five-game losing streak.

Individual Cougars have had big games, but those isolated efforts have not translated into wins. Wednesday, D.J. Shelton had 26 points in a loss to Oregon State, and Dexter Kernich-Drew scored 24 points in a loss to Colorado.

“I really thought we were going to be a better shooting team,” Bone said. “We talked about it as a staff, early in the year just getting shots up in the summer and in the fall, certain guys made shots and we have shot extremely poor and it’s hard to win if you don’t make baskets.”

( 14-5, 2-5)MinM-AM-AO-TAPFPTS

Percentages: FG .456, FT .909. 3-Point Goals: 9-22, .409 (Calliste 4-6, Young 2-7, Artis 1-1, Dotson 1-3, Moser 1-4, Abdul-Bassit 0-1). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 0. Turnovers: 13 (Loyd 3, Young 2, Amardi 2, Dotson 2, Artis, Friedman, Moser, Calliste). Steals: 6 (Moser 2, Dotson, Carter, Loyd, Artis). Technical Fouls: None.

(8-12, 1-7)MinM-AM-AO-TAPFPTS

Percentages: FG .250, FT .640. 3-Point Goals: 8-26, .308 (Johnson 3-9, Boese 2-3, Shelton 2-5, Iroegbu 1-6, DiIorio 0-1, Longrus 0-1, Kernich-Drew 0-1). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 4 (Railey 2, Iroegbu, Hawkinson). Turnovers: 14 (Iroegbu 4, Shelton 4, Johnson 2, Railey 2, Woolridge, Kernich-Drew). Steals: 5 (Shelton 2, Woolridge, DiIorio, Kernich-Drew). Technical Fouls: None. Halftime—Oregon 30-17. A—3,866.

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