Oregon Outlasts Washington State


It’s becoming a familiar refrain. Washington State (10-9, 1-5) had victory within reach but stumbled down the stretch eventually losing to No. 16 Oregon (17-2, 6-0) in Eugene Wednesday night by a final score of 68-61.

No matter who the opponent has been over the course of this basketball season, Coach Ken Bone has witnessed his squad play well.

That’s right. The Cougs have played some good basketball each time out with one exception. For most of us, that is a record we would strive to achieve in our professional lives.

So what happened Wednesday night when WSU faced the hottest college basketball team in the nation on a court where the Cougars have never won?

Lacking bench depth, key Cougars tired late in the game. Simply put, Coach Bone doesn’t have the horses necessary to finish a race.

Coach Bone guided his troops to secure a lead for the first 27:41 of the game before the Ducks knotted the score at 46-46 with 12:19 remaining in regulation. WSU controlled virtually every aspect of competition up to that point. They played tenacious defense by changing up schemes enough to keep Oregon’s high powered offense off balance.

When Royce Woolridge made a smooth move driving, then gliding up for an easy layup to put WSU back in front by 53-52 it was clear the guys in crimson uniforms came to play. Only 7:41 minutes of Pac-12 hoops left for the Cougars to hold the lead and secure their second conference win this season.

The Cougs held the Ducks on their ensuing possession. That was where the momentum of the game began a permanent shift to the team wearing lime greeen Kool-Aid colored sneakers. Oregon stiffened on defense taking away the WSU motion offense which led to a forced 3-pointer to beat the shot clock. That led to a transition layup building the confidence of the home team and their fans.

Washington State continued to work hard at both ends of the court but sabotaged themselves by missing free throws late in the game. Misses from the charity stripe revealed why the Cougars couldn’t finish strong. The guys who have been the top scorers were so gassed they lacked rhythm at the free throw line clanking off nearly every crucial attempt.

In the end, only two WSU players reached double-digits scoring.

Mike Ladd played a tremendous all-around game leading all scorers with 19-points while adding 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Brock Motum added 14 points despite the obligatory double-team by Oregon all night.

The trio of Motum, Ladd and Woolridge played 38, 34 and 34 minutes respectively. Against an athletic up-tempo team like Oregon who spread balanced playing time among 6 players, those are tough minutes. Dexter Kernich-Drew added useful play off the bench along with scoring 8 points. Frankly, KD didn’t look for his shot enough. And though Junior Longrus didn’t fill up the stat sheet, his play continues to improve thanks to the meaningful minutes he’s getting.

The reason WSU continues to struggle in Pac-12 play is quite simple. Coach Bone doesn’t have enough guys on his active roster who are ready to play at this level. Heck, if games were just 30-minutes of regulation play, Washington State might well be 17-2 matching the Ducks record.

The good news is more talent will be eligible next year. This year? Count on great effort from the coaching staff and the guys suiting up.