Arrow-right Camera
Subscribe now
WSU Men's Basketball

Shorthanded Washington State drops sixth consecutive game, losing 70-58 to Colorado

Colorado’s Dallas Walton shoots between Cougars Dishon Jackson and Efe Abogidi, right, during Wednesday’s game in Boulder, Colo.  (Associated Press)

There was already a fair amount of adversity facing Washington State as the Cougars prepared to play at Colorado on Wednesday, seeking the program’s first win in Boulder against a Buffaloes team that hadn’t dropped a game at home all season.

One day before the game, another obstacle popped up for the Cougars, who boarded their flight to the Rocky Mountains without top scorer and floor general Isaac Bonton.

Without Bonton, who didn’t travel because of a non-COVID-19 related illness, the Cougars were hapless on offense in the first half and unable to overcome a 15-point deficit in the second, losing 70-58 at the CU Events Center.

The loss is WSU’s sixth in a row and drops the Cougars to 9-7 overall and 2-7 in Pac-12 play.

Kyle Smith’s team will return home briefly before traveling across the Cascades for Sunday’s rivalry game against Washington .

Playing without Bonton, the conference’s third-leading scorer, the Cougars started a lineup featuring three freshmen and two sophomores, struggled to generate offense through the game’s first 20 minutes and ran into a 3-point-shooting buzz saw in Colorado, which opened 7 of 8 from beyond the arc and finished 58% by making 10 of 17.

“With the barrage of 3s early on, (it was) similar to our game at our place except it was them instead of us,” Smith said. “They got off to a good start, but I felt we could climb our way back into it. I was proud of our guys, they did, and again we got to six (points). They made a couple plays and just kind of backed us off.

“It was too big a hurdle to climb, but give a hat tip to them. They played well.”

The Cougars got off to a sluggish start on offense, scoring just six points through the game’s first 6 minutes, and promptly endured a scoring drought that lasted nearly 6 more minutes to the 7:48 mark in the first half.

During that stretch, Colorado sped off on a 20-0 run to open up an 18-point lead with 8:07 to play in the half. The Cougars mitigated the damage – relatively speaking – to close the Buffaloes’ advantage to 15 points at half.

Still, the absence of Bonton, a 19.3 points-per-game scorer in Pac-12 play who’s also leading WSU at 3.8 assists per game, was apparent as the Cougars went to the locker room with four assists on only nine made shots.

“He provides at least 20 points a night, so he’s going to definitely get us on the board when we need it most,” WSU center Dishon Jackson said of Bonton.

“In the first half, he’s a leader, so he’s going to make us pick our energy up and it’s going to translate to the defensive end so we can get more stops.”

WSU closed CU’s gap to six points in the second half, largely due to the effort and production of freshmen Jackson, who’s emerged at the center position the past month, and TJ Bamba, a Bronx, New York, native who finished his high school career not far from the Boulder campus, in Denver.

Bamba started in place of Noah Wiliams in the second half due to a stomach bug that had the sophomore guard visibly ill in the locker room at halftime. Bamba scored 10 of his 13 points after the break, making his fourth and fifth 3-pointers of the season.

“I just came into the game saying, ‘It’s just basketball, TJ,’ ” said Bamba, who also pulled down five rebounds. “I’ve just got to relax. That’s what I did.”

The most impressive sequence of Jackson’s young career with the Cougars also came in the second half when the freshman made two free throws, drew a charge on the other end and followed with a layup to cut Colorado’s lead to eight points.

Jackson fouled out of the game with under a minute left but finished with 12 points to go with eight rebounds.

The Vallejo, California, native has scored in double figures three of the past four games after failing to do so his first nine games.

Colorado’s lead shrunk to six points with 9:01 to play on a pull-up jumper from Ryan Rapp, but the Buffaloes responded with a D’Shawn Schwartz 3-pointer and led by at least nine points the rest of the way.

The Buffaloes, who lead the country in 3-point shooting, finished 20 of 23 from the foul line. The Cougars got there just nine times, with Jackson accounting for eight .