The WSU men’s basketball team (5-1) recorded their first loss of the season against Eastern Washington (3-3) on Saturday night, losing the matchup 76-71.
The Cougs had more scoring chances than the Eagles in the game, but could not capitalize on the opportunities. Overall, WSU shot 10-30 from two-point range and 9-31 behind the arc.
“10-30 is not going to get it done, simple as that,” WSU head coach Kyle Smith said. “And they kept us off the offensive glass, we missed 42 shots and got 12 back. That’s not good enough.”
The Cougars went into halftime up by 12 points, but could not maintain the lead in the latter half of the game. Overall, WSU held the lead for over 28 of the 40 minutes played.
WSU played the game without Noah Williams and TJ Bamba, who were both absent due to injuries. Williams was injured in practice the day before playing Eastern Washington and Bamba was injured during the WSU win over Winthrop.
So far this season, Williams has been a leader for the Cougs and has been one of the go-to players for scoring opportunities. Bamba has helped the Cougs on both offense and defense this year, able to shut down players on hot streaks. Without Williams and Bamba, WSU’s depth-centered game plan was forced to change.
“I think we’ll have them for Wednesday, but it’s too early to tell,” Smith said. “I think within this week we should be [good] if they trend the right way.”
Tyrell Roberts and Michael Flowers took the reins for WSU, both scoring over 20 points in the loss. Roberts led the team with 23 points, but ultimately fouled out in the second half. Due to Roberts running into foul trouble, Eastern Washington was able to produce points on offense with lighter defense from Roberts. Flowers followed Roberts close behind with 21 points and led the team in rebounds with nine.
True freshman Mouhamed Gueye had an unusually poor performance against the Eagles, recording zero points and running into foul trouble early. Gueye finished the game with four personal fouls and two turnovers.
“He looked like a young guy out there today,” Smith said about Gueye’s performance. “You know, foul trouble and just tentative and those things add up.”
Guard Mason Landdeck led the Eagles to victory with 24 points and two assists. Before the win against WSU, Landdeck averaged 4.3 points per game and 14.8 minutes played. Landdeck proved deadly from the free throw line, going 12-14 on free throws in the Eagles victory.
Landdeck was clutch from the line in the last minutes of the game, responsible for the last six points for Eastern Washington. The Cougs tried to mount a comeback with less than a minute in the game, but Landdeck kept Eastern Washington in the lead with his free throw success.
“I know him because I saw him in high school, he’s from somewhere near where my wife’s from,” Smith said about Landdeck. “He’s a pretty aggressive little player. I should’ve emphasized more on the scout that he’s definitely a momentum guy. He played with a lot of confidence.”
Eastern Washington spread the wealth around the roster with four players scoring more than ten points. Overall, the Eagles made 46.3 percent of their shots from the court.
The loss for WSU is their first of the season after beginning with five straight nonconference wins. The loss snaps WSU’s 19-game nonconference win streak.
Going into the matchup with Eastern Washington, WSU was favored to win. The absence of Williams and Bamba proved to be too much for the Cougs and is one of the reasons for the loss.
The Cougs look to regain their successful start to the season with their first Pac-12 matchup of the year against Arizona State at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Desert Financial Arena.