Cougars losing streak extends to five

Senior guard Isaac Bonton had bounce back performance against Colorado Saturday



WSU junior guard Myles Warren defends Colorado senior guard Maddox Daniels in the matchup Saturday evening in Beasley Coliseum. The Cougs lost the matchup 59-70.

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball extended their losing streak to five games when the Cougars (9-6, 2-6) fell to the Colorado Buffaloes (12-4, 6-3) after a complete breakdown in the second half.

The Cougars led Colorado by 18 points at one point in the first half but blew the lead in the second half after Colorado senior guard McKinley Wright IV took over offensively.

Head coach Kyle Smith said Wright IV played like a senior and was certainly the difference-maker in this one.

Wright IV went down early in the first half after a loose ball collision between him and freshman center Efe Abogidi. Wright IV took a long time to get up and off the court. He was helped off by the Colorado trainers, and he eventually returned at the start of the second half.

Senior guard Isaac Bonton turned his game around somewhat after scoring just four points against Utah. He finished with 21 points on 8-20 shooting. He played all but three minutes in this game as he and sophomore guard Noah Williams tried to find the answer on offense together. Williams finished with 16 points of his own, which included four three-pointers.

Sophomore guard Ryan Rapp made his long-awaited return to the court against Colorado after missing the past month due to COVID-19 protocol. He said it feels good to be back on the court and help his team out in any way he can.

“[I was] quarantined in the house for a long time, haven’t seen all the guys,” Rapp said. “So it’s been really good to be back out on the floor with everyone and just being around the team again.”

WSU’s first four minutes of the game had a lot of energy and tenacity from the Cougar offense. Bonton scored a quick five points, which already surpassed his point total in WSU’s previous game against Utah.

Smith said he was really proud of the team starting the game with a lot of energy on offense. Playing a team like Colorado was certainly going to be a challenge to keep the momentum going, he added.

“I knew it was going to be tricky to stay in that zone, and we weren’t able to,” Smith said.

Although Bonton’s double-digit scoring streak ended last game against Utah, he scored 11 points after just 11 minutes into the first half. He was the only Cougar with double-digit points until Williams joined him when he scored his 10th point with a little over five minutes left in the half.

Colorado powered through the remainder of the first half. The closest Colorado cut the lead to was four, but the Buffaloes trailed for the rest of the half.

At the half, WSU led Colorado 37-30. Williams and Bonton combined for 26 points, 13 points apiece, to give WSU the edge at halftime.

Also at halftime, the Cougars shot 62.5 percent from three and 100 percent from the free-throw line. Both of these stats are both first half-season highs for WSU.

The momentum of the game shifted once Wright IV checked back into the game at the start of the second half for Colorado. Wright IV was certainly not 100 percent, as he was consistently stretching out his lower-body injury.

At this point, Wright IV completely took over in the second half.

Wright IV, who had only an assist in the first half, scored 12 points, dished out four assists and pulled in seven rebounds in the second half alone. He managed to play every minute of the second half.

With a little over 11 minutes to go in the game, the Buffaloes took their first lead since the opening minute of the game, as they led 44-43 over WSU.

Slowly but surely, Colorado pulled away with the double-digit win. Freshman center Dishon Jackson became the third player on the WSU team to score double-digit points, scoring 10 points.

Over 90 percent of the Cougars’ points came from the starting lineup, as the bench only scored five points.

Smith said it’s important to have depth on offense, and hopefully, Rapp, among others, can find the answer off the bench soon.

The Cougars’ next game will be against the Buffaloes once again, this time on the road at the CU Events Center in Boulder, Colorado. Tip-off will be at 6 p.m. PST and will air on ESPNU.