Washington State (8-11, 1-6 Pac-12) hosted Oregon State (11-7, 3-3 Pac-12) Wednesday night on their home court in Pullman.
In terms of how the teams matched up talent-wise, the game held intrigue. Minutes into play, the visiting Beavers seized the lead for the evening.
FINAL: OSU 66 – WSU 55
There’s a long standing axiom for any measure of success in the Pac-12. Win on your home court and work hard to steal a few on the road.
Over the course of 40-minutes of basketball, WSU made runs at OSU. Time and time again they dashed their own efforts with unforced turnovers allowing Oregon State to earn a conference road win.
A heavy dose early of offensive prowess by senior Angus Brandt established Oregon State as the team who knew they could capture a victory away from Corvallis.
The Cougs began their scoring on a smooth mid-range jumper by senior D.J. Shelton. DJ was just warming up.
WSU Coach Ken Bone has been looking for offense to replace the scoring of DaVonté Lacy, who was forced to watch from the bench for the fifth straight game. Shelton came through with a career-night putting up an impressive 24-points while grabbing 10-rebounds for yet another double-double.
The Beavers were up 28-21 with about 3-minutes remaining in the first half and seemed poised to build a comfortable lead going into the locker room at intermission. Coming off an emotional win over Oregon last weekend, the Beavers couldn’t muster enough balance to put WSU on the ropes. Heck, OSU had the ball and the opportunity to work the clock for the final shot of the half and fumbled that away.
Despite opening the second half with consecutive turnovers, the Cougs hung tough.
Washington State scratched their way back into striking range at 38-34 with 13:58 left to play on a confident jumper by Shelton. Shelton then forced a turnover swinging momentum to the Cougs.
When DJ missed a quick jumper at the other end of the court, Pac-12 leading scorer Roberto Nelson found himself wide open behind the arc and knocked down a trey which effectively knocked out WSU.
Coach Bone continued with a game plan that isn’t producing wins. He asks his guys to take the air out of the ball for at least the first 20-seconds of every offensive possession. Opponents actually are now taking advantage of that by playing loose defensively which in effect allows them to expend less energy. To put it another way, opponents are basically taking it easy and resting for the bulk of every WSU possession.
Washington State’s offensive strategy helped the Beavers starters play most of the game.
And once again, WSU wasn’t able to effectively run their motion offense with the clock winding down and all too often either settled for outside shots or turned the ball over. Lacking the ability to pressure the OSU defense driving to the bucket allowed Coach Craig Robinson the luxury of leaving his best players on the court most of the game.
One of the most telling stats of the game shows up in team fouls. Oregon State had a total of nine fouls assessed…for the entire 40-minutes of basketball. Those fouls resulted in the Cougs attempting just four (4) three throws for the entire game.
Because both Shelton and freshman Que Johnson were efficient with their shot selection, WSU finished shooting 50% from the field, including a very respectable 6-14 (42.9%) from behind the arc. That level of performance is what you would expect on your home court.
A lack of aggression on offense is definitely not what should be expected when WSU plays on Friel Court.
Oregon, loser of their last four games, will play Washington Thursday night before heading to Pullman for the game Sunday evening at 4pm against a Washington State team desperate for a second Pac-12 win.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
- D.J. Shelton not only led WSU with a career-high 24-points, he added 10-boards for his fifth double-double of the season and sixth of his career. DJ also recorded a double-double last time out. It marks the first time in his career that Shelton has reached the 20-point plateau. His previous high was 19-points against Washington last season in the Pac-12 Tournament. He established a new career-high 10 field goals made on a career-high 15 attempts. Shelton was a perfect 4-4 from 3-point range, marking a career-high for 3-pointers made. Wednesday night marked the 13th time this season Shelton led the Cougars in rebounding.
- Que Johnson added 15-points against OSU and has scored at least 14-points in seven of WSU’s last nine games.
- Royce Woolridge was 30-seconds away from going scoreless for the first time this season before making an uncontested layup.
- The Cougars shot a season-best first-half .591 (13-for-22) from the field