Beavers dam up Cougars

The Cougar men’s basketball team couldn’t keep the magic going as they fell Saturday night to Oregon State.

In a game that started with an electric atmosphere, the Cougars (9-8, 3-2 in Pac-12) struggled out of the gate. The Beavers (12-5, 3-2) came out with a zone that caused problems for the Cougar offense. They only managed 7 points within the first ten minutes of action and finished with 16 points at the half on 6-of-25 shooting, a lowly 24 percent effort. The poor shooting led to a 62-47 loss for the Cougars. Head Coach Ernie Kent said the problem was simple; they didn’t make shots.

“We missed shots, we looked like a Washington State team of old,” Kent said. “What I mean by that is the way we looked early on in the preseason, but we had our looks, we had our looks when we could control tempo and get out in front of them. They made shots, they made free throws, we missed shots and we were unable to get the tempo of the game to what we needed.”

Fortunately for WSU, the Beavers also struggled to score in the first half, allowing WSU to stay in the game. OSU finished with 25 for the half, giving them a 25-16 lead going into the locker room. Junior guard Gary Payton II led the Beavers with seven points and eight rebounds. Senior guard DaVonté Lacy said the Beavers’ length on defense was the main issue for the Cougs.

“It seemed like every time we were about to take a shot they were right there,” Lacy said. “They use it to their advantage, kind of like the Syracuse 2-3, using their length to their advantage and you know, they did a good job of executing it.”

The Beavers did a terrific job of forcing Kent’s team away from their desired tempo. WSU wasn’t able to come out and run, instead they were forced into more of a half-court offense. Junior forward Brett Boese said it prevented the Cougars from getting into a rhythm.

“I think they did a great job, they knew their game plan,” Boese said. “Their game plan was to slow the game down obviously with that press and that 2-3 zone that they run, they run it really well, they execute it well, we knew that coming into the game and we had a lot of open looks, a lot of shots, credit to them they played great defense we just didn’t hit any shots.”

Boese seemed to be the only Cougar able to make an impact against the stingy Beaver defense. Boese finished the half with eight points and an assist. The only other players to score for the Cougars were sophomore forward Josh Hawkinson and senior center Jordan Railey.

The second half was a lot more of the same as WSU failed to register any points until five minutes into the half. OSU did not have the same problem, as they were able to jump out to a quick 33-16 lead. WSU was able to bring it within single digits on multiple occasions thanks to a strong second half from Lacy, who scored all of his 16 points in the half.

However, it wasn’t enough for WSU as the Beavers were able to hold them off by a score of 62-47. The crowd tried to jumpstart a Cougar comeback, but every time WSU got it close, OSU hit big shots. Payton II led the Beavers with 13 rebounds and 13 points while junior guard Langston Morris-Walker led all scorers with 22 points.

The crowd came out strong to support the Cougars, providing an atmosphere that hasn’t been seen in a long time in Pullman. Kent said he was pleased with the atmosphere.

“I thought our crowd the last two games was just fantastic,” Kent said. “What a tribute to them, what a great job they did, the students were out at full force for both of these games and the community came out and they tried to give us some energy and will us back in the game, so I thought they did a tremendous, tremendous job. Hopefully they’ll stay with us and come back ‘cause we still have a lot more basketball in us.”

You can catch the Cougars in action next Wednesday against the Utah Utes. The game tips off at 6 p.m. and will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.