For Washington State, it’s getting beyond just losing basketball games. As the frustration mounts, the Cougars are finding it a challenge to save face.
Saturday night’s 91-70 defeat at Washington was the latest blow, a beating in which the Cougars could not have appeared more helpless.
WSU has now lost eight of nine, with the powerful Bay Area schools visiting this week.
Todd MacCulloch toyed with the Cougars inside, getting 22 points and 11 rebounds in just 20 minutes, and three other Huskies scored in double figures as Washington made an early lead hold up.
“We talked all week about getting Todd back productive inside,” said Washington coach Bob Bender, whose team improved to 14-7 overall and 7-5 in the Pacific-10 Conference. “That happened right away. In doing so, it also helped us shoot the ball from the perimeter because we got such good, open shots.”
On a couple of occasions, the 7-foot, 280-pound MacCulloch found himself matched against 6-8, 208-pound Steve Slotemaker. The WSU sophomore looked a bit like Gilligan trying to stop the Skipper.
“I found myself not on him that much, but when I was, that’s an experience,” Slotemaker said.
Jamie Booker added 16 points and five assists for the Huskies, while hassling WSU (11-13, 3-9) star Isaac Fontaine into seven turnovers.
Fontaine finished with 17 points on 7-for-15 shooting, but wasn’t much of a factor.
It got so bad, in fact, that Fontaine usually as dignified as they come - was hit with a technical foul for yelling at an official.
“I thought Isaac’s questioning of some of the calls was legitimate,” WSU coach Kevin Eastman said. “There were a number of times that he drove into the lane and there were hands on the wrists and arm.”
Booker added a little salt with some well-aimed postgame commentary.
“He’s not a physical player - he likes to complain to the refs a lot when he gets bumped,” he said. “And so I tried to get up and get physical on him and it worked out.
“I usually hold him to less than 15. I don’t think he’s ever scored anything more on me except in Pullman.”
Fontaine had burned Booker for 31 points when the Huskies edged the Cougars 74-72 last month in Pullman. That loss was blamed largely on the absence of forward Carlos Daniel, the Pac-10’s leading rebounder, but his presence made no difference.
Daniel finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, but 13 of his points came in the second half - well after UW had taken command.
The Cougars managed to get within 26-20 with 7 minutes left in the half, but six consecutive wasted possessions helped push the deficit into double digits, at 35-22. The critical stretch included three turnovers and an offensive foul.
Washington’s 40-28 halftime lead might have been much greater had it not been for the struggles of UW star Mark Sanford, who suffered through a first half in which he dribbled off his foot, missed two alley-oop attempts and threw up several airballs. He finished with nine points.
The Cougars’ slide has been particularly agonizing for Fontaine. He seemed to deal with the frustration by speaking in generalities afterward, barely suppressing the tears.
“We’ve just gotta keep trying,” he said. “Things were just going their way. They came out and played real well at home - teams do that.”
Washington 91, Washington St. 70
Washington St. (11-13) - Daniel 6-14 5-8 17, Johnson 1-7 0-0 2, de la Fuente 3-6 3-3 9, Jackson 2-4 0-0 5, Fontaine 7-15 2-2 17, Slotemaker 4-6 2-3 10, Crosby 3-9 0-0 7, Pengelly 1-1 0-0 3, Mott 0-0 0-0 0, Hutchens 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-62 12-16 70.
Washington (14-7) - Sanford 4-11 1-2 9, MacCulloch 10-17 2-2 22, Wooten 4-5 2-2 13, Watts 0-2 0-0 0, Booker 4-9 8-8 16, Luton 4-7 4-4 15, Femerling 4-5 1-2 9, Walcott 1-2 5-5 7, Moritz 0-1 0-0 0, Thompson 0-2 0-0 0, Gross 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-61 23-25 91.
Halftime-Washington 40, Washington St. 28. 3-Point goals- Washington St. 4-6 (Crosby 1-1, Pengelly 1-1, Fontaine 1-2, Jackson 1-2), Washington 6-13 (Wooten 3-3, Luton 3-5, Walcott 0-1, Moritz 0-1, Sanford 0-1, Booker 0-2). Fouled out-None. Rebounds- Washington St. 23 (Daniel 9), Washington 42 (MacCulloch 11). Assists-Washington St. 13 (Jackson, Slotemaker, Pengelly 3), Washington 21 (Thompson 10). Total fouls-Washington St. 17, Washington 14. Technicals-Fontaine. A-7,412.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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