Mar 12, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington State Cougars guard DaVonte Lacy (25) drives to the basket against Stanford Cardinal guard/forward Anthony Brown (21), forward Dwight Powell (33), and center Stefan Nastic (4) during the second half in the first round of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena. The Cardinal defeated the Cougars 74-63. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
In an all-too-familiar ending, Washington State (10-20) fell to Stanford (19-11) in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, NV.
FINAL: Stanford 74 – WSU 63
Both teams played with energy and intensity for about the first three-quarters of regulation. In what could be termed a theme for Cougar basketball this season, WSU played competitively but lacked what it takes to win games against good ball clubs.
Throughout the first half, the Cougs were able to follow the game plan of Coach Ken Bone. WSU wanted to control the tempo of the game and limit the total number of possessions.
Stanford definitely needed to secure a win over the Cougs in order to put themselves in line for an invitation to play in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal have played well consistently over the course of the season, winning every game they should have. And if they were to impress the NCAA selection committee, a win over Washington State was a must.
Mar 12, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington State Cougars forward D.J. Shelton (23) shoots against Stanford Cardinal center Stefan Nastic (4) during the second half in the first round of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena. The Cardinal defeated the Cougars 74-63. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Most of the first half was a back-and-forth battle. Just about 3-minutes before intermission, the Cardinal put together a nice little run edging out to a 7-point lead with about a minute to go. Showing the passion necessary to win at the Pac-12 level, D.J. Shelton attacked the rim like a man possessed to slam down a teammate’s errant shot. Yes, the Pac-12 Network replayed the senior forward’s effort repeatedly as their “Play of the Game”.
Shelton’s old fashioned three-point play closed the gap to 32-28 in favor of Stanford and a very manageable margin to overcome in the second half.
When you’re playing for not just a Pac-12 Tournament championship, but a shot at the national championship, letting an opponent back in the game prior to halftime is not an option.
Stanford Coach Johnny Dawkins patiently used a time out to set up the final possession of the half. He called for a play to put the ball in the hands of All-Conference guard Chasson Randle who calmly knocked down a 3-pointer as time expired for the first 20-minutes of play.
WSU came out strong in opening four and a half minutes of the second half with a 13-7 run that brought them back to within a single point of Stanford at 42-41.
Over the next five minutes of play the Cougs tied the game at 47-47. Once again it was Shelton, playing his heart out, jamming home an wayward shot by a teammate.
For the first time since the early stages of the first half, WSU took the lead at 50-47 when Royce Woolridge emulated the play of Shelton by muscling back his own miss. Fouled on the put back, Woolridge converted the earned free throw.
Then the wheels came off the WSU drive to upset Stanford in the opening round of the conference tournament and do something a Ken Bone team has never done in the process.
Continuing with the automotive metaphor, Washington State seemed to run out of gas. The Cougs looked lost at a critical juncture of the ball game allowing Stanford to put together a 16-4 run and seal their fate.
Washington State never came closer than six-points the rest of the way.
As has been the case in most of the Cougar losses this season, when they fell behind late in the game their offense lacked the ability to get quality shots quickly.
Credit the Cardinal for their defensive quickness, but WSU players didn’t appear to know where to go for points. At a juncture in the game where offense was at a premium, Cougar players were standing around out of either habit or befuddlement.
The season is now over for Washington State. With only two seniors on the roster, Shelton and Will DiIorio, there will be plenty of experience returning next year. Topping the list of key players is DaVonté Lacy, who was one of the most improved players in the Pac-12 this season.
There is one huge question looming over Cougar basketball at this point. Will Ken Bone be back next season? There will be no shortage of opinions on that topic in the coming days. WSU athletic director Bill Moos, will meet with Bone as early as next week to solidify the situation.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
- DaVonté Lacy became the 34th Cougar to score 1,000 points in his career with his first field goal of the game, a 3-pointer. He now has 1,023 points and ranks 34th all-time in the WSU career record books. Lacy finished with 4-treys and moved onto WSU’s single-season list for 3-pointers made with 76, tying for eighth with Klay Thompson (2010). Also, Lacy finished with 25-points for his 12th 20-plus point game of the season.
- D.J. Shelton grabbed 11-rebounds to move into sole possession of fourth place on WSU’s single-season rebounding list with 297 this season. Shelton added 15-points for his 13th double-double of the season, 14th of his career and his 11th in Pac-12 play.
- Stanford shot .585 (24-for-41) from the field, the best by a WSU opponent this season.
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