Now that Friday night is behind us, one thing is certain about Washington State (1-0) men’s basketball…another season has begun.
The Cougs were gracious hosts to Cal State Bakersfield, allowing the Roadrunners to stay in the game for the full 40-minutes of play.
Given their opponent lacked a legitimate center, you would have expected WSU to dominate the glass with athletic talent. In other words, quicker players who have good jumping ability should win the battle of the boards.
The Cougs did out-rebound CSUB 40-35 for one simple reason. WSU couldn’t knock down their shots creating the opportunity to collect 17 offensive boards.
First game of the season typically is one where players look a little rusty. In the case of WSU, coach Ken Bone is probably looking for some industrial strength W-40 today as a way to tweak his ineffective offense. As a team, Washington State converted just 31.3% of their shots against a defense that would never be mistaken as Pac-12 caliber.
It was a night where open shots clanked harmlessly of the rim creating a chorus resembling a hand bell choir.
The Cougs led 28-25 after a horrid half of shooting just 28.1% from the field.
Early on in the second half, it appeared WSU found confidence and went on a 12-0 run over a span of five minutes. But CSUB clawed their way back into the game by working the ball around the perimeter for open shots. Cougar offense helped the Roadrunner cause by reverting back to missing makeable shots.
Junior DaVonté Lacy had a career night tallying 28-points, nearly half the total Washington State was able to put up on the scoreboard. Lacy courageously hoisted a game-high 17 shots (three times more than any other Coug) to make 6 baskets. He was a poster boy for futility from behind the arc where just 2 of 12 attempts were good.
If Friday night was a preview of things to come, it looks as though this edition of Cougar basketball plans to be a team that will either live or die shooting 3-pointers.
Coach Bone said after the game, “I thought it was great,” referring to the 16 long distance attempts his guys took in the first half. Lacy accounted for the only two buckets from downtown in the first 20-minutes.
For fans of Cougar basketball, there is reason to believe this season will be better than last year.
Time and time again (10-times) last year, Washington State found a way to let games slip through their fingers. If the score was close, the Cougs were usually on the losing end of things.
Friday night when WSU wouldn’t have been able to hit water in the middle of a lake from a rowboat, the Cougs found a way to win.
“It was an ugly all around game,” explained Lacy. But he quickly pointed out that it was a win regardless of artistic execution…or the lack thereof.
Coach Bone discovered a number of things his team will work on this coming week. One thing made clear was, “We can win without hitting 3′s”
And that’s what the eyes of Cougar Nation want to see. Wins. Lots of them.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
- DaVonté Lacy scored a career-high 28 points. His previous high was 27 points accomplished last season against Oregon State on Feb. 13th. Lacy went 14-for-17 from the free throw line, both marking career highs.
- Senior D.J. Shelton was 3 points shy of a double-double after grabbing 10 rebounds, 5 offensive and 5 defensive.
- Sophomores Brett Boese and Junior Longrus got their first career starts. Longrus played a career high 23 minutes and tied his career high with 4 points.
- A total of 55 fouls were called in the game, 32 on CSU Bakersfield and 23 on WSU.
- Ike Iroegu became the first Cougar freshman to start a season opener since Reggie Moore started as a freshman, Nov. 13, 2009.