Washington State (11-19, 4-13) got slapped by the Oregon Ducks (9-8, 18-12) in Beasley for a final 72-61 score.
The first half of action was neck and neck for much of play. The Cougars mitigated a preposterous height disadvantage – four of Oregon starters listed at 6-foot-9 or taller – by sharing the ball. The rapid succession of crisp passing threw Oregon’s man-to-man defense in rotation often drawing favorable slides for Washington State contributing to a home-team shooting percentage north of 70.
But much like an all exclusive pass to the Fyre Festival, this didn’t last.
With the ballgame favoring the green and yellow by a slight 26-24 margin with 4 minutes to go in the first, Dana Altman of Oregon appeared to use the media timeout far more efficiently than his predecessor Ernie Kent.
UO proceeded to rattled off a 15-6 run behind a trio of three point daggers converting on their final seven shot attempts. And heading into the break, WSU found themselves behind the eight ball once again despite a solid jump out of the locker room.
“It’s tough because we know were right there and we know we can play with anyone in the conference, but we still gotta come out and play,”
standout freshman CJ Elleby said
To say the second half was any different would suggest a very casual relationship with the truth. Halftime adjustments – or lack there of – couldn’t retaliate to an onslaught of haymakers via Dana Altman and Co.
Simply put, the hopeful return of those Cougars we saw sweep the desert back in February wasn’t so. Kent has cited his roster’s inconsistency as fatal all season long.
And if you recall, the head man at Washington State had a simple formula to their success just a short month ago before the squads unprecedent success in the Grand Canyon State.
February 5, 2019
“Taking care of the ball, blocking out, and taking good shots. Normally speaking, when we do that, we are in any ball game. If we don’t do it right, those are the things that are separating us in the game.”Ernie Kent
Anecdotally speaking for tonight’s matchup, the theory holds true.
While WSU outrebounded the Ducks – a likely byproduct of UO taking 11 more shot attempts – the Cougs tossed away 17 possessions and shot a pedestrian 42 percent from the floor. Juxtaposed with UO’s 49 percent shooting (50 percent from three) and 20 points off turnovers, it isn’t hard to see where this went wrong.
“It’s definitely us. Oregon doesn’t have anything to do with us running offense, sharing the ball, and finding the open man,” Kent said.
Four Ducks ended the night with double digits in the form of Payton Pritchard (15), Paul White (21), Will Richardson (11), and Victor Bailey Jr. (14). Notably, Bailey and Richard played an integral role in Oregon’s ridiculous 31 bench points – WSU had just 10.
“Our defense was actually good enough for the game, but out offense was terrible,” Kent said.
Top performers for the crimson and grey come in the familiar faces of Elleby, Robert Franks, and Marin Cannon. The combined 38-point effort was a product of 12-33 shooting (37 percent).
But the tough night had a silver lining. Indeed, Elleby’s 10 points putting him ahead of Steve Puidokas (1974) for the highest scoring freshman in WSU basketball history.
Kent called Elleby’s skillset “unusual” for a freshman, but emphasized his focus on the team not individuals.
“We gotta recoup and get that energy back that we had in Arizona,” Marvin Cannon said postgame.
Washington State wraps up conference play Saturday in a hosting of Oregon State before embarking to Las Vegas for the the Pac-12 Tournament. Live coverage of WSU’s date with the Beavers can be found on the Pac-12 Network.