WSU men’s basketball continues to skid

Fixes have to come fast

WSU+guard+Justin+Powell+gets+up+after+being+fouled+during+an+NCAA+mens+basketball+game+against+Texas+State%2C+Nov.+7.

COLE QUINN

WSU guard Justin Powell gets up after being fouled during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Texas State, Nov. 7.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen reporter

The WSU men’s basketball team (1-2) had their second away game of the season Tuesday as they fell to 1-2 after losing to Prairie View A&M.

It is hard to sugarcoat this one. Losing to a SWAC team is disastrous for the Cougs. Prairie View did not miss much in the first half and after starting the second with a 41-27 lead they never looked back.

The final score was 70-59. There is no excuse for having this happen. The Cougs consistently failed to convert on offense and could not stop an extremely hot Panthers team.

Often in these kinds of losses the Cougs pull close at some point. That did not happen here. Prairie View held about a 10-point lead for most of the game.

Every player on the floor for the Cougs played poorly tonight. The MVP was probably DJ Rodman simply because he did not play due to illness and that is better on both ends than anyone else did.

To focus on specific moments is to lose the plot entirely, as any highlight was made up for by an equally bad lowlight. The ball movement we hoped was being provided by Justin Powell and others after the first game of the season is not present. Mouhamed Gueye’s scoring seems to have vanished, as the open dunks we saw before have become fadeaway jumpers and difficult layups.

To touch more on the shot selection, many difficult shots were taken when an extra pass or dribble drive would have been better. Even when easy shots were taken, they just were not falling. WSU shot 32% from the field and 33% from three. One bright spot in the darkness was the Cougs’ free-throw shooting, where they went 24-for-29.

On the other hand, the Panthers shot 46% from the field and a sweltering 47% from three. There is basically no way to win a game with those kinds of percentages for and against.

It really seems like the biggest problem with this team is a lack of depth. Contributions off the bench were extremely limited and only eight players touched the floor for the Cougs. That is not a sustainable approach to winning basketball games.

Once again, three starters were over 30 minutes, as really the only role with a backup is the wings. The Cougs lack a backup point guard or a real healthy backup big. On a night like Tuesday, there is truly nobody to turn to besides the starters. If the shots are falling, there is no backup plan.

Ultimately, that plan can work if the team is clicking. The problem is that under the current approach, the Cougs were beaten in every box score stat besides personal fouls, where the Panthers somehow had 24 to the Cougs’ 13. The Cougs did lead in one category, but it was turnovers.

It is best that Coug fans put this behind them, as the team also must do. It is going to take a lot for Wazzu to make a postseason tournament after a loss like this, but it is not impossible.

In the two games over Thanksgiving break, WSU will have to start looking alive again. The first chance to make something happen will come against Eastern Washington in a neutral site game in Spokane.

The Eagles are 1-3, with their only win being over 0-5 Mississippi Valley State. Neither team will take it easy and both should be desperate for wins.

Also over break, the Cougs return back to Beasley to play Detroit Mercy. Detroit is 2-1, with a big win over Ohio. They will have a busy break, and by the time they reach the Palouse, it will be their seventh game of the season.

The team has only lost away games so far. With any luck, Beasley has some magic in it that made the team good and that will be back again Detroit.

Both of these games are must-win at this point. To keep postseason hopes alive, the Cougs will likely need to not just beat these teams. They will need to devastate them. A tournament-level team should not look like an equal to Eastern or Detroit.

If the Cougs look like they did in the second half against TXST, they have a chance to make it clear that the recent losses were just a slump and not a pattern. Things have to change and fast. Hopefully, this break is a turning point. WSU needs it to be.

WSU will face Eastern at 6 p.m. Monday at Spokane Arena. That game will air on SWX or the KHQ website.

Tip-off for the Detroit Mercy game is at 1 p.m. Nov. 25 in Beasley Coliseum. The game will air on the Pac-12 Network.