With 2,723 in attendance, the Santa Clara Broncos (8-6) emerged victorious over the Washington State Cougars (7-6) at the Spokane Arena. The 79-71 margin pushes WSU to a miserable 0-2 record against the lesser WCC, and the Pac-12 collectively at 7-9.
I want to thank all of these Cougs who came out to the game after that great football win yesterday. To get back up this morning and get out here, I really appreciate that because we needed their energy.Ernie Kent
The absence of standout forward Robert Franks (hip contusion) was nothing to dismiss. WSU missed his presence all night resulting in 27 heavy minutes for underclassmen C.J. Elleby and Cannon. The tandem combined for an evenly split 38 points.
As one Cougs sits, another takes to his feet. Senior Vinot’e Daniels made his first appearance since Dec. 9 against Montana State. The in-state product sat four consecutive games in response to a reported concussion. Not making his typical impact, the 6-foot-2 guard suspects it will take some time to find his game.
“I would say that I’m 100 percent, but I’m not back in shape.” Daniels said. “I’m still working back and these next couple days are gonna help me get prepared for UW.”
Oddly enough, the Cougars won the rebound and turnover battle. They took more shots from the field, made more free throws, and even pushed the games tempo. From those marks alone, one would the expect the outcome to lean Crimson.
The difference maker tonight came in efficiency. The Broncos played a more clinical and effective strategy on offense as exemplified by their final 58.5 shooting percentage from the field and a 45 percent from three. A final figures revealed a decisive 14 percent advantage for the Californians, but the gap was wide as 20 in second half alone.
“I think [the discrepancy in shooting percentage] was a byproduct of not having Franks on the floor. He’s got 24 points that he gives you every game. That’s big, you can stretch the floor so much more which opens up the lanes to drive,” Kent said. “I thought they did a good job of clamping down our shooters.”
Washington State will reset as they conclude their out-of-conference schedule. After consistent travel, Coach Kent plans on giving his squad a much needed break before opening Pac-12 plays along with shortening the rotation in effort to minimize mistakes. Who this “shortened rotation” will consist of is not abundantly clear.
“We just have to be tough on defense,” Marvin Cannon said. “I felt like there were times it was kinda slow. We lost our focus. Toughness and focus is what we – extremely – need to work on.”
Kent says Frank’s injury is evaluated on a “day-to-day” basis. The terminology used was “soreness,” which likely implies a hasty return for the standout senior.
WSU begins conference play Jan. 5 meeting the Washington Huskies (8-4) in Seattle. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.
Postgame interviews can be found here.