Chasing a win; WSU hopes to avoid fourth straight loss

Senior+forward+Will+DiIorio+is+fouled+by+Oregon+State%E2%80%99s+Malcolm+Duvivier+during+a+home+game+against+the+Beavers%2C+Wednesday%2C+Jan.+22.

Senior forward Will DiIorio is fouled by Oregon State’s Malcolm Duvivier during a home game against the Beavers, Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Evan Baron | Evergreen Men's Basketball reporter

After suffering an 11-point loss to Oregon State on Wednesday, the Washington State men’s basketball team will look to regroup and achieve their second Pac-12 win when they host the Oregon Ducks Sunday at 4 p.m.

Right now, the Cougars are on track to win just three Pac-12 games, the lowest total since Head Coach Ken Bone arrived at WSU.

In order to get over the hump and earn that second conference win, the Cougars (8-11, 1-6) must execute in three main areas to pull off the upset against the Ducks.

Spread Out the Scoring

In the past four games, the Cougars had no more than two players score in double figures. During that four-game stretch the Cougars have only one win and are averaging around 52 points a game.

Against Oregon State University, WSU redshirt senior forward DJ Shelton scored 24 points, redshirt freshman Que Johnson scored 15 points, and the Cougars only managed to score 55 points. The three other starters on the team, redshirt juniors Jordan Railey, Royce Woolridge and Dexter Kernich-Drew, combined for six total points scoring against the Beavers.

 “You need a balance,” Bone said. “Right now we don’t have a very good balance, we need guys like Dex (Kernich-Drew), other guys to be able to make and that helps the balance out.”

Attack the Rim

The Cougars only shot four free throws in the loss to the Beavers, while Oregon State had 27 attempts from the charity stripe and knocked down 19 of them. If the Cougars had gotten to the free throw line against Oregon State, it could have resulted in a different outcome for the Cougars, especially since they only hit one of their four attempts.

 “We just have to attack more,” Johnson said. “On ball situations, off ball, just attacking their bigs.”

In their last win, the Cougars shot 17-of-28 from the foul line.

Hold on to the Rock

What also hurt the Cougars’ chances of winning against Oregon State was the amount of times the team turned the ball over. They turned the ball over on their first two possessions of the second half and had 13 total turnovers that night.  

“We just had some careless turnovers with the ball,” Shelton said after the loss to Oregon State. “We tried to run some sets and force some plays.”

Their 13 turnovers resulted in eight Oregon State points.

“We were careless with the ball and you can’t do that,” Bone said. “It’s been hard enough for us to score as of late without DaVonte (Lacy) in, it’s been even more of a struggle. So we can’t turn the ball over and give ourselves a chance to win the game, you’ve got to take care of the ball.”

Both teams will have their strengths tested in Sunday’s game. As of Jan. 23, the Ducks are the third best scoring offense in the conference, averaging 79.2 points per outing. The Cougars will enter the matchup with the third best scoring defense in the conference, holding their opponents to 66.4 points per game.

WSU dropped its last five meetings against the Ducks, the most recent being a 79-77 overtime loss on Feb. 16 in Pullman. In that game Woolridge scored a career-high 36 points on 10-of-15 shooting to go along with five assists and three steals in 41 minutes of play.

The Cougars’ last win against Oregon came in a 2011 home game where they won 77-63 and four Cougs scored in double figures, led by Klay Thompson with 16 points.