The Daily Evergreen

Cougars struggles continue against New Orleans

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WSU senior guard Ike Iroegbu attempts a free throw during the team's 70-54 loss to the New Orleans Privateers on Saturday.

WSU senior guard Ike Iroegbu attempts a free throw during the team's 70-54 loss to the New Orleans Privateers on Saturday.

WSU senior guard Ike Iroegbu attempts a free throw during the team's 70-54 loss to the New Orleans Privateers on Saturday.

CHRIS ARNESON | Evergreen columnist

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The Cougars’ basketball defensive woes continued Saturday afternoon at Beasley Coliseum against the New Orleans Privateers, as they fell 70-54 in the game.

New Orleans shot 54 percent from the floor with just six of those field goals coming from behind the arc. The Privateers also attempted a miniscule nine free throws in the game, hitting six of them. WSU went eight for 13 from the charity stripe.

Although the announced attendance was 2,617, about 500 souls bore witness in reality. Whoever is reporting these figures must have finished last in that game where you estimate how many jellybeans are in a jar.

Some may point toward WSU’s low shooting percentages from the field as the reason they lost another game, hitting 42 percent of its field goals and just 21 percent of three-point attempts. But I beg to differ.

The rebounding statistics told the story in this game, as the undersized Privateers out-rebounded the Cougars 36 to 20 and grabbed six more offensive boards than WSU. The tallest player who entered the game for New Orleans was 6-feett-9-inches while the Cougars routinely start senior forward Josh Hawkinson and redshirt senior center Conor Clifford, who stand 6-foot-10-inches and 7-feet tall, respectively.

Since the team’s bench is undersized, Clifford needs to give the team more meaningful minutes going forward, as he played just 12 on Saturday. Other than 6-feet-9-inch freshman forward Jeff Pollard, the only real size the Cougars have coming off the bench is 6-feet-7-inch sophomore forward Robert Franks.

Franks was the only bright spot for the Cougars in this one, as the Vancouver native scored an efficient 16 points on eight field goal attempts. However, as Franks plays the small forward position, he should be expected to grab more than one rebound in 29 minutes of action.

While Hawkinson put up a nice stat line on Saturday, posting 13 points, six rebounds and two steals, there is more to the story than what meets the eye. Hawkinson, who shot an efficient 54 percent from the field last season, has shot 47 percent through seven games.

As Pac-12 play begins in three-and-a-half weeks, the team needs to collectively toughen up in a hurry.

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Cougars struggles continue against New Orleans