With the regular season winding down, the rivalry matchup Friday night in Seattle between Washington and Washington State held intrigue based on one simple factor. These two schools fight for bragging rights each and every time they face each other on the field of play.
The Huskies came out of the gate with energy and passion ignited by their fans on hand inside Alaska Airlines Arena. Their initial bucket was indicative of how the guys in purple and gold intended to play.
In a furious exchange of rebounding will, Desmond Simmons grabbed a second offensive board on their possession and worked the ball around to an open Andrew Andrews who calmly canned a 3-point shot.
That opening score typified Washington’s team effort. The Huskies were focused on defending their house.
If you’re a glass-half-full person, the Huskies out-hustled the Cougs the entire 40-minutes of basketball. And if you view things from the opposite perspective, WSU was lethargic, tentative and lacked floor leadership.
DaVonté Lacy turned in yet another fine effort, accounting for more the half of the total offensive output by Washington State. He tallied 25-points on 4-8 shooting from beyond the arc and worked his way to the foul line converting 9 of 12 attempts.
Every time the Cougs would seemingly wake up and make a charge, their spark was quickly snuffed out by the Dawgs.
Whether intended or not, the half-court offense run by coach Ken Bone held little mystery. It boiled down to simply dribble and pass the rock around for the first 25-seconds of the shot clock then look to get the ball into the hands of Lacy.
Wily veteran coach Lorenzo Romar easily had his guys intent on disrupting the one-dimensional WSU game plan.
Bone returned to his favored starting lineup of upper classmen. If he was trying to counter the intensity of the home crowd with experience, it failed to pay off. The most life WSU showed on the court took place with athletically-gifted freshman Ike Iroegbu was paired with the scoring potential of redshirt freshman Que Johnson.
Romar gained a huge assist in stifling the Cougar offense from an unexpected source. D.J. Shelton proved to be a one-man wrecking crew. Shelton hoisted up 3-point shots all night as though he were former WSU sharp shooter Klay Thompson. Not one of his 10 (that’s not a typo…it was ten) bombs from behind the arc hit the target. This observer was left scratching his head as to why Ken Bone facilitated Shelton’s shot selection.
In the end, Coach Romar got more out of his roster than Coach Bone. If you would have been told CJ Wilcox would only account for 8-points, it wouldn’t be a huge leap to expect a close scoring contest. In the end, it wasn’t.
Washington reminded that basketball is a team sport. Their balanced scoring and balanced minutes for an 8-man rotation won the day. WSU’s Lacy was the only Coug to reach double figures scoring.
The last regular season games of the season are next week. The Cougs will host the Los Angeles schools for a Thursday night game with USC then close out Pac-12 play against UCLA Saturday evening.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
- DaVonté Lacy led all scorers with 25-points. He’s scored in double figures in all eight games since his return from injury, reaching the 20-point plateau for the 10th time this season.
- D.J. Shelton finished with 15-rebounds. Last night was his 14th double-figure rebounding game of the season and his eighth in the last nine games.