Jan 5, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils guard Jermaine Marshall (34) drives against the Washington State Cougars defense during the second half at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Coming off their worst offensive showing in 76-years, Washington State men’s basketball (7-7, 0-2 Pac-12) looked to right their ship against a good Arizona State (12-3, 1-1 Pac-12) team in Tempe, AZ late Sunday afternoon.
The Cougs put up nearly twice as many points than they did last Thursday, but not enough to earn a conference win.
FINAL: ASU 66 – WSU 47
Coach Ken Bone was able to send his regular starting five out to begin the game. Both DaVonté Lacy and Dexter Kernich-Drew missed the Pac-12 opener against No. 1 Arizona. Lacy was recovering from an appendectomy while DKD sat due to a concussion. Neither would make a significant contribution in their return to the hardwood.
Offensively, the Cougs matched their 7-point first half fiasco against the Wildcats in just a little over 5-minutes. Minutes later ASU used an 8-0 run to race out in front 18-9 with a little over 8-minutes left in the opening period.
Yes, WSU was nearly as cold as the winter weather in Pullman over most of the first half converting just 31% of their shots. Despite their ongoing offensive struggles, the Cougs trailed by a slim margin of 4-points at intermission, 27-23.
When Lacy was in the game, he didn’t show the effects of having surgery just 8-days ago. But he wasn’t in the game long enough to have an impact. About midway through the opening 20-minutes of play, Lacy ambled to the locker room and never returned. ESPN reported he sustained an injury unrelated to his bout with appendicitis. They indicated it was some sort of rib injury. During his post game interview, Ken Bone would only confirm Lacy was injured. Then again, that’s usually the extent of any injury report offered by WSU.
Jan 5, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Washington State Cougars guard Ike Irroegbu (0) drives past Arizona State Sun Devils forward Jonathan Gilling (31) during the first half at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
With the game in the balance, Cougar fans held reason for optimism as the second half of play got underway.
Snapping out of their funk dating back to the beginning of the game last Thursday night, Arizona State went on an 18-2 run to snuff out the fire lit by Que Johnson. Just a couple of minutes into the final 20-minutes, Que scored 8-consecutive points on a nice mid-range jumper and a pair of 3’s.
Arizona State imposed their will on the visiting Cougs to build an insurmountable lead, 55-35. Though there was enough time to work a miracle, there would be no memorable comeback staged by Ken Bone’s ball club.
The bright spot for Washington State was the offensive effort contributed by Que. His 7-10 shooting tallied 18-points to lead the Cougs. No teammate reached double-digits to offer scoring support. And therein lies the biggest problem for this Cougar team.
Royce Woolridge remains ineffective shooting jumpers which is likely brought about by a lingering wrist injury sustained several weeks ago. Going against the Sun Devils’ Jordan Bachynski, the best shot-blocker in the Pac-12, Woolridge tried time and again to drive to the hoop. His work in the paint was either erased or altered by Bachynski each and every time.
Without a scoring threat other than Que, conference wins will be few and far between.
Next up for WSU is a very hot Colorado team who comes off a 100-point game, knocking off previously undefeated Oregon Sunday afternoon in Boulder. Because school isn’t in session, Washington State will host this ‘home’ game in Spokane Wednesday night at 6pm and will be televised on the PAC-12 Network.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
Que Johnson led WSU with 18 points and has scored in double figures in 3 of the last 4 games. He was 3-for-6 from 3-point range.Junior Longrus
led WSU with 7 rebounds apiece. Longrus was one rebound shy of his career-high and had a Pac-12 high with his 7 boards. Five of his rebounds came on the offensive end.
Jan 5, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Washington State Cougars forward Junior Longrus (15) shoots over Arizona State Sun Devils guard/forward Egor Koulechov (15) during the first half at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports