Runnin’ Utes sprint past the Cougars on the road


WSU junior guard DaVonte Lacy drives the ball against a Utah defender during a game at Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday, Feb. 8.

The task of winning on the road in the Pac-12 remains a difficult one for the Cougars. This time it was the hostile environment of Utah that the WSU men’s basketball team could not handle, as the Cougars (9-14, 2-9) fell to the Utes (16-7, 5-6) by a score of 63-81.

“I think Utah deserves a lot the credit,” WSU men’s basketball Head Coach Ken Bone said after the game. “They played a very good game, I loved their energy and toughness on the defensive end and then on offense they executed and hit threes.”

The Cougars played the Utes tough in the first seven minutes of the game. WSU redshirt senior forward D.J. Shelton scored 10 of the team’s first 12 points of the game. At that point the Cougars trailed Utah by only one point. However, the Utes went on a 10-0 run and broke the game wide open. Thanks to the three-point shooting of Utah sophomore guard Brandon Taylor the Utes’ lead ballooned to 17 with 4:07 left in the game.

“They were hitting some good shots and shooting well,” Shelton said in an interview with The Spokesman Review. “They were pushing it and they did a better job in transition.”

Utah took a 42-26 point lead at halftime. In the first half the Cougars shot 34.5 percent from the field and were outscored by 14 points in the paint.

WSU did not give up and did all they could to get back into the game. The Cougars cut the deficit to 10 points with 10 minutes left in the game.

“Like every game we never give up,” WSU junior guard DaVonte Lacy said in an interview with The Spokesman Review. “It doesn’t matter if I hit a couple or D.J. hits a couple (shots), Ike, Que, anybody can hit a couple (shots), I think we’re always going to fight back even if we’re down or even if we’re up, we’re going to keep it up.”

The Utes came with a counterpunch of their own on the next possession when Utah sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge hit a shot in the paint and killed the momentum the Cougars were trying to build.

“From that point the next four, five minutes it seems like that’s when they separated from us with the score and we had a hard time scoring.” Bone said. “They did a good job executing.”

The Utes continued to give the ball to their post players and finished the game outscoring the Cougars 42-18 in the paint.

“They did a good job of dumping it into the paint,” Bone said. “They’re on their home court, and all year long they’ve done a good job of driving it hard on their home court and dumping it inside. We talked about that before the game that we’ve got to able to guard in the paint because that’s where they’re going.”

Lacy finished the game as the team’s leading scorer with 22 points, and Shelton finished second on the team in scoring with 19 points. They were the only Cougar players to score in double figures.

“Once again you need more than one guy, you need more than one threat,” Bone said. “You look at (Utah’s) stat sheet, I don’t know how many guys were in double figures, five, six guys, that’s a team that’s well balanced and hard to guard, and if you have just one or two guys scoring it’s much easier to guard us cause teams can key in on certain guys and it’s tough.”

The last time the Cougars won at Utah was Dec. 14, 1946 and the losing streak at Salt Lake City is now 12.

“It was a great atmosphere,” Lacy said. “Especially for a Pac-12 venue, a ginormous stadium, the fans came out and supported, it was real loud and it was good, I understand why they are good at home because they have great fan support, and it’s fun to play in these types of crowds.”

The Cougars will host the California Golden Bears (15-8, 6-4) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in hopes of avoiding another three-game losing streak.

“(We need to) utilize these few practices we have before the next game and just try to get better,” Shelton said. “Just learn from it, like Coach (Bone) said, we should be peaking at this time, this team’s getting ready to go to the tournament and post play. We just got to fight and get better.”