Late game stumbles continue for men’s basketball

Cougars have had 20 or more turnovers in last two games


ABBY LINNENKOHL | The Daily Evergreen

Stanford’s freshman forward Oscar Da Silva pump fakes, leading WSU’s junior guard Kwinton Hinson to jump in the air and accidentally come down on top of his opponent in the game played Thursday evening in Beasley Coliseum.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

In an attempt to weather the storm of three consecutive losses in conference play, the Cougars fell to Stanford 79-70 Thursday night.

“This has nothing to do with the coaches, honestly, it’s on us,” WSU redshirt senior forward Drick Bernstine said. “We just can’t close games right now. Honestly, it’s on me and the other leaders on the team. We got to figure out a way to close out games.”

Since the Cougars have entered conference play, they have struggled to get their offense in motion early in games. In the first half of those three Pac-12 games, WSU (8-8, 0-4) shot about 30 percent from behind the three-point line.

In the first half against Stanford (9-8, 3-1), sophomore point guard Malachi Flynn got his stroke going with three early three-pointers, one of which came in heat-check fashion from about 25-feet. Flynn was on fire for the first half, hitting six of the seven three-pointers for the Cougars.

In addition to the productive offense in the first half, WSU was able to hold the Pac-12’s second leading scorer, Stanford’s redshirt junior forward Reid Travis, to just six points.

In the second half, Stanford senior guard Dorian Pickens stepped up where Travis was struggling. Pickens let loose 22 first-half points and finished the game with a career-high 28 points.

But, for as hot as both offenses were in the first half, WSU came into the second half sputtering. Head Coach Ernie Kent said Stanford was able to make the halftime adjustments necessary to limit Flynn from his first-half production.

“For Malachi, one of the better games he played, but almost to a fault,” Kent said. “He played so well, that our offense became stagnant because he was in such a zone. Then all of the sudden in the second half when they made some adjustments and that offensive rhythm needed to move and cut and do some things we got stranded.”

About midway through the second half, WSU surrendered the lead to Stanford and the Cardinal were able to hold on to it for the rest of the night.

A 7-0 run for WSU with less than five minutes left cut into the momentum of Stanford, giving the Cougars one last hope. But Pickens would not be denied a win on the Palouse, as his only second half points came from two late three pointers to seal the Cardinal win.

WSU continues to be hobbled by a turnover bug that has led to back-to-back games with over 20 turnovers. The Cougars’ 22 turnovers proved to be too much to overcome as Stanford limited themselves to just 13.

“With 22 turnovers against a team that doesn’t pressure you, they had four steals, so that means you had 18 unforced turnovers,” Kent said. “Which gave them 24 points. That’s a lot of points to give a team like Stanford.”

With both teams having double-digit turnovers in the first half, Stanford was able to cut down their mistakes in the second half.

Kent pointed out that more important than the points given to Stanford through turnovers, were the limited field goal opportunities for his team.

The Cougars will shift their efforts to University of California, Berkley 1 p.m. Saturday at Beasley Coliseum.