Washington State (6-4) traveled to Kennewick, WA for their “home” contest with San Francisco State (4-2) Wednesday night.
It was a good night for WSU men’s hoops on a number of fronts. The most important task the Cougs accomplished was the final score.
FINAL: WSU 80 – SFSU 50
Once again, it was the “DaVonté Lacy Show” on display. The junior out of Curtis HS was impressive at both ends of the court and without question the best player in the game. Lacy finished with 22-points on 9-16 shooting while grabbing 6-rebounds. His stroke from beyond the arc continues to be both fluid and masterful going 4-9.
This Cougar team remains a work in progress for Coach Ken Bone.
Only one WSU player other than Lacy managed to get into double-figures scoring. Royce Woolridge totaled 10-points in 22-minutes of action.
The primary reason there wasn’t balanced scoring for the Cougs this time around was the fact Coach Bone is still trying to get a look at what his guys are capable of doing in game situations. Lacy logged the most playing time with just 29-minutes on the floor.
At the outset, this game looked to be competitive. The Gators took advantage of the Cougs inability to consistently run offensive sets and actually led 16-15 about midway through the opening half of play.
Offensively, Washington State began the game hoisting up a unwarranted number of long range shots despite having a size advantage inside. With about 6-minutes left in the opening half, the Cougs had attempted 14-shots from behind the arc. If you justify falling in love with long range bombs because of the scoring potential you’d be about as accurate as WSU players. At that point in the game they were a weak 3-14 and would have been worse had Lacy not knocked down a couple.
Not only is the obsession with perimeter shooting misplaced for WSU, the guys aren’t patient enough to run Bone’s motion offense. Many of their 3-point attempts were taken with over 20-seconds left on the play clock and with an opponent applying defensive pressure.
Late in the first half, Bone finally got the attention of his team and they began to look much better the rest of the evening.
Two players critical to making this team competitive in the Pac-12, Que Johnson and Jordan Railey both continued to show improved play. Railey turned in his best outing by clogging up the lane and moving with authority inside. In 21-minutes of play he was whistled for just 2-fouls which is a huge step forward toward becoming a major contributor. Johnson struggled with his mid-range jumper, but effortlessly canned a couple of treys when left unguarded.
Part of the reason Railey didn’t see more action in the second half was Bone’s choice to get 6-10 true freshman Josh Hawkinson some playing time. Hawkinson rewarded the move with 7-minutes of useful play. In a perfect world, it would be a good idea to redshirt Hawkinson who looks to have a tremendous upside. As he matures mentally and physically, this kid is going to be a solid performer for Washington State.
The most interesting stat of the night won’t jump out at you unless you follow SFSU basketball closely. When can your team be outscored by an opponent 80-50 and your record doesn’t reflect a loss? One answer is an exhibition game. Though this was a regular schedule game for WSU, it was just an exhibition night for the Gators…which might explain why their hearts clearly were not in the game the entire second half.
There are just two more non-conference games left for Washington State before traveling to Tucson to open Pac-12 play against the No. 1 team in the nation, Arizona. Before then, they will host UTEP at Beasley Coliseum Saturday night at 5:30pm. That game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
- D.J. Shelton was one point away from a double-double with a game-high 11 rebounds and 9 points
- Thirteen Cougars saw action on the night, including Dominic Ballard making his first appearance of the season
- WSU’s win is its largest margin of victory since winning by 35 last season in its game in Kennewick over Idaho State, 74-39. Perhaps the Cougs should play in the Tri-Cities more often?