Cougs struggle with familiar issues in loss to Boise State

Old demons return as Cougs can not click on either end



WSU guard TJ Bamba jumps for a lay-up during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Texas State, Nov. 7.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor

The WSU men’s basketball team had their first away game of the season Saturday as they fell to 1-1 against Boise State.

The final score of 71-61 is certainly rough, but there were times during this game when the Cougs looked to be making a comeback. Multiple times the lead was cut down, even to the point of being tied with 8:48 to go.

However, the same scoring droughts that made for lots of frustrating games last season returned, and every time the Cougs got close they were not able to seal the deal or even keep it close.

After jumping to an early 8-0 lead, the Cougs stopped producing and ended up scoring only 14 points for the rest of the first half. At the end of the half, they were down seven points.

The defense also struggled in the second half. The offense was unable to score and the defense had trouble stopping the Broncos , which made for a half that they probably want to forget.

Looking at box scores, it is almost impressive that it was a close game at times, as the individual performances were also rough. For example, last game the Cougs were led by Justin Powell’s 12 assists. In this game, Powell had no assists and finished with 10 points. He certainly tried, but the shots were not falling for anyone.

TJ Bamba led the team in scoring with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, but even as he contributed there he also had four turnovers. Nobody else shot more than 40% from the field besides Kymany Houinsou, who only shot twice. DJ Rodman had 14 rebounds, but shot only 22% and had only four points.

Boise State is a good team that made the tournament as recently as last year. It is believable that they were able to expose flaws in the Cougs, especially when many of these issues were present last year.

However, it has to be looked at as something of a wake-up call if Wazzu wants to make noise in the Pac-12 this year. There are plenty of teams just as good as the Broncos in this conference, and the Cougs will have to stand up to those teams better than they did on Saturday.

Head coach Kyle Smith said it himself post-game.

“I was proud of the way we competed, battle back in the second half, but you can’t have three assists and 15 turnovers and think you’ll have a chance to win on the road,” he said. “Hopefully we can learn and grow from this.”

With several players still out or not at 100% due to injury, there is hope that these contributors can help to shore up the issues on both ends. In particular, the talents of Andrej Jakimovski could help on both ends. His foot injury will likely keep him out for several more weeks, so the Cougs will have to fix things somewhat before he is back.

Coug fans hope he will return to a team that looks more like the one that beat Texas State and he will be able to help add to an already good record instead of having to be a savior for a struggling team.

The Cougs will look to get back on track against Prairie View at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Texas. Fans can watch on Pac-12 Washington or ESPN+.