Cougars drop sixth straight

WSU men’s basketball star player Isaac Bonton out with flu against Buffaloes



Freshman center Efe Abogidi rises for a shot over a defender.

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

The short-handed Cougar men’s basketball team lose another one to the Colorado Buffaloes to extend their losing streak to six games in a row.

Senior guard Isaac Bonton did not play against the Buffaloes as he came down with the flu before the game. This is Bonton’s second missed game this season.

Sophomore guard Ryan Rapp took his spot in the starting lineup once again; he finished the game with nine points.

WSU head coach Kyle Smith said the team certainly could’ve used Bonton’s talents on offense, but he wanted to avoid recognizing that deficit on offense to keep the morale of the team-high before tip-off.

“Mentally, you got to lock in,” Smith said. “Hopefully he’s ready for Sunday, I think he will be.”

For the sixth time this season, WSU’s leading scorer was sophomore guard Noah Williams, who had 15 points off 50 percent shooting from the field. However, Williams also struggled a bit against the Buffaloes with four turnovers.

Freshman center Dishon Jackson had another productive performance for WSU with 12 points, a career-high eight rebounds and two blocks. He fouled out late in the second half.

However, probably the biggest breakout performance for WSU came from freshman guard TJ Bamba, who came off the bench and scored 13 points and pulled in five rebounds. Bamba said he’s a confident person and this performance from him just shows what he’s capable of.

“It’s all about me just figuring it out offensively,” Bamba said. “And today I showed spurts of what I can potentially be.”

Smith said he was very impressed with Bamba’s performance in the second half, where he made 10 of his 13 points.

At the start of the second half, Williams wasn’t able to resume the game and was in the locker room vomiting. Smith said he needed someone to take his spot, for the time being. Bamba was ready to play and didn’t disappoint, Smith added.

WSU had some slight momentum in the first five minutes of the game, making three of their first five three-pointer attempts to start out.

Colorado then went on a 20-0 run that lasted about five and half minutes, as the Cougars kept missing shots and giving up turnovers. WSU finally called a timeout after the 20th point was scored and put together a little 7-0 run of their own, but it wasn’t enough to considerably cut the lead before halftime.

At the half, Colorado led WSU 39-24 even though the Buffaloes went scoreless in the final 2:49 of the first half. The Cougars’ bench scored seven points, which was already more than what they recorded in the previous matchup against Colorado.

WSU’s leading scorer at halftime was Williams with eight points, but Jackson put together a quiet and productive first half. Jackson had four points, five rebounds and two blocks at halftime.

Once the second half started, it looked like the Cougars were going to pick up right where they left off. But instead, WSU put together a 10-4 run in the first five minutes and cut the Buffaloes’ lead down to single digits. Seven of those points coming from Bamba.

Bamba said he wasn’t feeling in rhythm this season in comparison to his typical offensive rhythm. But he credited his performance and tenacity on defense against Colorado to get himself in a rhythm on offense.

“My mindset is to always be aggressive, but my whole season, I haven’t basically been myself,” Bamba said. “Coming into this game, I just told myself to relax and play defense and let everything come to itself.”

WSU cut the Colorado lead down to six at one point, but the Buffaloes eventually developed a rhythm and pulled away with the home win. WSU now is 0-10 all-time in the CU Events Center.

The Buffaloes came into this game as the best free-throw shooting team in the nation, and against the Cougars, they made a total of 20 free throws. This is the most free throws made against WSU since the Cougars faced Arizona in double-overtime earlier this month.

Smith said Colorado’s ability to not only make free throws as a team, but senior guard McKinley Wright IV’s ability to attack, dish out the ball and make his free throws is a vital weapon to have on offense. Wright shot 11 for 11 from the free-throw line against WSU.

WSU will hit the road to face the University of Washington Huskies at 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle. Fans will not be allowed to attend, but the game will air on the Pac-12 Networks.