Nov 21, 2013; Spokane, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars guard Ike Iroegbu (0) looks to pass the ball against Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Gary Bell Jr. (5) during the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs beat Cougars 90-74. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Washington State (2-1) traveled an hour and a half north of Pullman to take on the No. 13 Gonzaga Bulldogs (4-0) on the hardwood of McCarthy Athletic Center. It would be a serious test on just how good Coach Ken Bone‘s ball club is.
FINAL: ‘Zags 90 – WSU 74
The results of the game gave the Cougs their first loss of this young season. The reviews, well, those are mixed.
Gonzaga has been an elite program for decades. WSU has been up and down over a comparable period of time. Recent history suggests this game would be easily placed in the win column for the Bulldogs. And it played out true to form thanks to the ‘Zags knocking down 56% of their shots from the field.
Without question, the best and brightest takeaway from this game was the play of freshman Ike Iroegbu at point guard.
Coach Bone has been searching for a guy to run his motion offense for over a year. If Iroegbu can continue to progress and play at the level he brought Thursday night, the future for WSU men’s basketball looks a bit better.
In 26-minutes of play, Iroegbu did a fine job at both ends of the court against some of the best backcourt men in college basketball this season. Yes, Kevin Pangos was the game’s high scorer with 27-points on 8-13 shooting. Frankly, that isn’t unusual. After four games, the Gonzaga sharp-shooter is averaging nearly 19-points.
What I like about Iroegbu is the energy he brings to the court. The Cougs were falling behind early in the game when Coach Bone brought him off the bench. Not only did he find ways to score, suddenly WSU appeared to be competitive.
Nov 21, 2013; Spokane, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars guard Ike Iroegbu (0) brings the ball down against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Based on a ridiculously small sampling of three games, this guy brings up the level of play by his teammates a notch or two…something critical if the Cougs are to be successful this season.
The Cougs never got themselves into a position to seriously challenge the ‘Zags. They had ample opportunities in the first half, but continued shooting poorly from outside…something which has plagued them thus far. And until WSU can prove otherwise, they are going to be seeing a lot of zone defense tailored by opponents to frustrate and create chances to rebound the basketball.
Time and again WSU brought the ball down court and struggle running set plays, eventually settling for long distance misses. They were just 10-28 from the floor in the first 20-minutes, including a stone cold 3-13 from behind the arc.
Nov 21, 2013; Spokane, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars forward D.J. Shelton (23) puts up a shot against Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Drew Barham (43) during the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs beat Cougars 90-74. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Bone started both D.J. Shelton and Jordan Railey Thursday night to try and match up with the size Gonzaga brings up front. The two combined for three rebounds in the game, none of which were offensive. The Pac-12 is loaded with teams who have plenty of size across the front line. Shelton and Railey must step up their play inside. Both have the skill set to get the job done so it’s a matter of focus and effort.
If Thursday night can be placed in the “learning experience” column, there’s cause of Cougar Nation to take heart.
Washington State will take to the court again this coming Sunday at Beasley Coliseum when they host TCU for a game scheduled to tip off at 3pm. It will be televised on the Pac-12 Network so you will be able to see on your flatscreen, iPad or smartphone just how much potential this team holds.
- For more coverage of Cougar men’s hoops, Josh Davis offers another look at the WSU/Gonzaga tilt. Click here
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
- DaVonté Lacy continued his streak of scoring in double figures in each game this season as he finished with 14 points. With 3 3-pointers, Lacy moved into 16th in the WSU career record books with 114 career 3-pointers made.
- Junior Longrus continued his streak of at least one block in each game this season with one block.
- Freshman Ike Iroegbu scored a career-high 20 points…he had 15 of his points in the first half. Iroegbu was 6-for-11 from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point range. He added a career-high and team-high 4 assists.
- The Cougars have had a player reach the 20-point plateau in each of the three games this season (Lacy in the first two).
- Gonzaga Bulldog basketball continues to be one of the hottest tickets to get in Spokane. Once again, the game Thursday night was another sellout crowd of 6,000.
- WSU dropped to 48-218 all-time against opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 and 2-8 against ranked Gonzaga teams.