WSU falls to Utes at home

Senior guard Isaac Bonton had one of his lowest scoring games at WSU with only four points

Senior+guard+Isaac+Bonton+attempts+to+get+past+a+Utah+defender+during+Thursday%27s+game+against+Utah+in+Beasley+Coliseum.

OLIVER MCKENNA

Senior guard Isaac Bonton attempts to get past a Utah defender during Thursday’s game against Utah in Beasley Coliseum.

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

The WSU men’s basketball losing streak continues after the Cougars (9-5, 2-5) were defeated by the Utah Runnin’ Utes 71-56 on Thursday in Beasley Coliseum.

WSU’s leading scorer was sophomore guard Noah Williams who scored 17 points off 6-11 shooting from the field and 3-4 from three. This is the first time in eight games that Williams has led the team in scoring.

Senior guard Isaac Bonton’s hot streak came to an end against the Utes as he scored just four points after shooting 1-8 from the field and 2-3 from the free-throw line.

This officially puts an end to Bonton’s double-digit scoring streak that started last season. He went 30 straight games with double-digit points, dating back to when WSU played Incarnate Word in December 2019.

WSU head coach Kyle Smith said a different offensive performance from Bonton could’ve helped the team significantly, but the team needs to learn not to use him as a crutch.

“That’s the next phase, is to be good when they’re running two, three guys at you,” Smith said. “We just got ourselves in a hole and just couldn’t get ourselves out.”

WSU’s losing streak against Utah (6-6, 3-5) now extends to 13, with their last win coming in 2014.

Both sophomore forward DJ Rodman and sophomore guard Ryan Rapp, both of whom were on COVID-19 protocol for the past couple of weeks, were suited up and with the Cougars on the bench. Rodman made his awaited return in the second half for WSU and finished the night with three points.

Smith said Rodman’s playing time in the coming games will fully be dependent on his conditioning, but Smith was impressed with Rodman’s return overall.

WSU’s first half was a bit rough. The Cougars let up 12 points in the paint after just the first 10 minutes and just couldn’t get it together defensively against Utah. The Utes shot 66 percent from the field in the first half alone, a new season-high for a WSU opponent this year.

At the half, the Utes led the Cougs 43-26. This marks not only the fourth straight game that WSU has been down by double-digits at the half but also the largest halftime deficit for the Cougars this season.

Williams led WSU in scoring in the first half with 11 points, and the second leading scorer was actually junior guard Myles Warren. Warren had six points off a pair of three-pointers. He went scoreless in the second half.

Three players from Utah scored double-digit points in the first half alone, including sophomore center Branden Carlson.

Carlson played WSU last season in the lone matchup between both schools and put up 12 points and two rebounds. He easily matched that point total in the first half with 12 points but surpassed his rebound numbers with five boards at the half.

The Cougars technically outscored the Utes 30-28 in the second half, but there was little to no momentum to be found for the Cougs as they were consistently trying to get out of a 20-point Utah lead.

Carlson led the Utes in scoring with 14 points, which ties his season-high. He also managed to pull off a double-double with 10 rebounds to go along with his scoring. Five people on the Utah team scored double-digit points, three of which achieved this feat in the first half alone.

Utah sophomore guard Rylan Jones had a field day against WSU last year scoring the ball, this year it was his playmaking that did it. Jones dished out 10 assists against the Cougars, which ties the season-high for an individual opponent.

Smith said Jones’ playmaking and Carlson’s first-half performance gave WSU problems and both of them felt comfortable against the Cougars.

WSU’s next game will be another home game, before going on the road for four more games. This time the Cougars will host the Colorado Buffalos. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Beasley Coliseum. Fans will not be allowed to attend, but the game will air on ESPN2.