Cougars Lose First Pac-12 Road Game To Stanford 78-67


Washington State (9-6, 0-2) played their first Pac-12 road game Wednesday night in Palo Alto taking on the Stanford Cardinal (10-6, 1-2).

This game was destined to be a matchup between two teams struggling to find both an identity and a way to win close games. Whoever could figure out a way to string together some buckets would earn a win.

In the end it was the Cardinal who figured things out for at least one evening, sending the Cougars back to Pullman with their second conference loss by a final of 78-67.

Stanford used a 14-0 run toward the end of the game to erase a WSU lead and go up 68-57.

For Coach Ken Bone’s team it was another frustrating night at the offensive end of the court. Aside from Brock Motum and Mike Ladd, there wasn’t another guy wearing a crimson uniform who looked confident and skilled at putting the ball through the hoop. Heck, Motum needed 24 shots to accumulate 29 points while Ladd hoisted 15 attempts to collect 15.

The toughest pill to swallow about this loss has to be catching the Cardinal when they are vulnerable yet failing to earn a conference win.

Coach Johnny Dawkins finds himself with the same challenge facing Coach Bone. Stanford lacks consistency and a go-to-guy when they have the ball. Add to that a relatively small crowd (4,476) on hand to create a home court atmosphere and there was reason for Cougar Nation to be optimistic.

So what led to a Stanford victory at Maples Pavilion?

Frustrated by an inability to score, Washington State sent Cardinal players to the free throw line 26 times where they converted 24 shots. The home fans actually booed when Andy Brown missed two from the charity stripe in the waning seconds of the contest.

Probably the most telling stat of the game would be WSU getting to the free throw line just 9 times over the course of 40-minutes. Time and again WSU would use up the shot clock with seemingly pointless perimeter passing. However, it’s hard to overlook WSU being out hustled on the boards 36-28. The Cougars had no answer for Stanford big men Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis. The Cardinal pair dominated on the glass. But let’s put the rebound differential aside.

WSU began the game with energy and intensity. In the end, lacking much offensive prowess other than Motum left the Cougars reeling punch drunk over the final five minutes of play.

It should be pretty easy for Coach Bone and his staff to make notes on the flight home to Pullman in preparation for the next game this coming weekend. It’s essential this squad continue to put in work necessary to be effective when they’re running their offense. Therein may just be the key to what lies ahead for Washington State. Add dimension to their offense and the Cougs will notch wins.

If WSU expects to win in the Pac-12, someone other than Brock Motum needs to step up as a scorer.

The formula isn’t complicated. Finding a solution within the current club roster is complicated.

Finding an answer has been elusive up to this point.

Let’s see what a couple of practices change for the Cougs when they fly back down to the Bay Area for a game with the Cal Bears (9-6, 1-2).

Washington State Notes:
• Brock Motum led WSU while tying his season high with 29 points…he was 4-for-7 from 3-point range, marking a personal Pac-12 high for 3-pointers made. Motum passed Ron Bennink to move into 16th in the WSU career scoring record books as he now has 1,233 points…Bennink had 1,222…Eddie Hill is 15th on the list with 1,242. Brock’s 29 points marks his seventh 20-plus game of the season and his first since scoring 27 against Jackson State, Dec. 13
• Mike Ladd added with 15 points…he has scored in double figures in the last three games and seven games this season.
• Ladd and Motum combined for 44 of WSU’s 67 points. .
D.J. Shelton was 2-for-2 from 3-point and finished with 6 points…he is now 7-for-13 from 3-point this season…the 3-pointers were his first since going 2-for-2 against Idaho Nov. 28…his first career 3s in Pac-12 play.
Will DiIorio got his second career start and first of the season…only other start came Nov. 17, 2011 against Sacramento State.