The Washington State Cougars again struggled in the second half as a three-point lead at the break turned into a 82-71 loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the opening game of the Cayman Islands Classic tournament.
The Cougs play the Old Dominion Monarchs in the consolation bracket today at 2 p.m. PT.
WSU closed out the first half strong against the Cornhuskers, leading 37-34 at the break. The Cougs trailed 25-21 midway through the period, but went on a 10-0 run to seize a 31-25 lead. They held the lead for the final nine minutes of the half, but didn’t score in the final four minutes — something they surely ended up lamenting. As is their M.O., they weren’t shooting all that great, but they were controlling the glass on both ends and turning seven offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points.
The second half was a completely different story. The Cornhuskers turned up the pace and the Cougars really struggled to contain it. Nebraska went on a 13-2 run almost right out of the gate to take a 49-42 lead, then around the midway point of the second half, went on another 13-2 run to extend their lead to a 69-53 lead that more or less sealed the game.
The biggest culprit? As it was in the loss to Omaha, hot shooting from beyond the arc: Nebraska went 5-of-7 from deep in the second half and overall shot 64% from the field — a whopping 74% eFG. This is not what you want to see in a second half shot chart:
That’s a lot of layups! And it’s part of a disturbing trend for the Cougars — these are the win probabilities in the three losses this season (via the indispensable kenpom.com):
CJ Elleby tried his best to keep the Cougars in the game, scoring 27 points on 21 shots while also grabbing six rebounds and contributing two steals, a block and an assist. But he again got very little help, as the team could muster just 0.91 points per possession. Isaac Bonton was the second leading scorer with 17 points, but it took him 19 shots to get there — and he also had four turnovers.
If you’re looking for positive news, Jaylen Shead returned from his apparent ankle injury to play 27 minutes; he led the team with eight rebounds and four assists. And freshman big man Volodymyr Markovetskyy gave them eight solid minutes, scoring six points and grabbing seven rebounds — including six offensive.
WSU now faces ODU in a matchup that could be one of the uglier games you’d see (if you were going to watch it). The Monarchs are 58th in adjusted defensive efficiency — the best team the Cougars have faced all season in that department — and lost their opener to George Mason despite giving up just 0.91 points per possession. They held three of their other five opponents below that, and have only allowed greater than 1.0 ppp twice. It’s going to be a real struggle for the Cougars to score.
They’re fueled by turnovers and defensive rebounding, two areas where the Cougars have performed pretty well this season. We’ll see if that can hold up in order for WSU to have a chance to win. WSU also is going to likely need to shoot well from three, as the Monarchs entice their opponents to shoot a lot from deep; this sure would be a nice one for Bonton to get going from out there.
On the bright side, the Old Dominion offense is pretty awful. They do take care of the ball and crash the glass (the inverse of what they do defensively), but they really struggle to shoot. So this one figures to be close. Kenpom.com predicts it to be a one-point game, while Vegas sees the Monarchs as a two-point favorite.
As in yesterday, your best bet for following the game is to listen to the radio broadcast; you can do that at TuneIn.com or via your local radio station. You can stream video, but it’ll cost you $30 for a one month subscription to Flohoops.
Nebraska pulls away from Washington St in 2nd half, 82-71 – Washington State University Athletics
WSU will face Old Dominion Tuesday.
Washington State’s first-quarter touchdown drought in Apple Cup has become a six-year struggle | The Spokesman-Review
One of the most disturbing Apple Cup stats for WSU under Leach is the lack of offensive productivity in the first quarter. As in, the Cougars haven’t scored a touchdown in the first 15 minutes of an Apple Cup since 2012.
Washington State players not bothered by ‘WWE’ antics from Washington DC Jimmy Lake | The Spokesman-Review
Lake’s schemes have been a nuissance for Mike Leach and WSU during the last six rivalry meetings – all won by the Huskies – and his bold comments in the days and weeks before and after the various Apple Cups have incited even more dislike for the sixth-year UW assistant.
Washington State’s Abraham Lucas named Pac-12 Offensive Lineman of the Week | The Spokesman-Review
Anthony Gordon couldn’t capture another weekly Pac-12 honor, but Washington State’s offense – and more specifically, its offensive line – was still recognized after a 54-53 victory over Oregon State.
Blake Mazza becomes first Lou Groza finalist in Washington State history | The Spokesman-Review
Mazza becomes the first kicker in WSU history to be named a finalist, two years after Erik Powell earned semifinalist honors. The Lou Groza Award has been handed out every year sincer 1992 and 27 finalists have gone on to appear in the NFL.
Blake Mazza Named Lou Groza Award Finalist – Washington State University Athletics
Mazza is one of 3 finalists for the place-kicker of the year.
Cougars Head to Seattle for Boeing Apple Cup Matchup – Washington State University Athletics
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Friday on FOX.
Pac-12 power ratings: Utah moves to No. 1; ASU now No. 4 – The Mercury News
Utah takes over after Oregon’s stay at the top ends following the loss at Arizona State. USC is the clear choice for No. 3, and then it gets murky.
Chanelle Molina Lifts Cougs in the Fourth to Move to 4-0 – Washington State University Athletics
The senior scores 11 of her game-high 21 points in the final quarter of play to help the Cougars score a 71-61 come-from-behind victory in Beasley on Sunday.
No. 25 Volleyball to Host No. 3 Stanford – Washington State University Athletics
WSU will recognize seniors Alexis Dirige, Jocelyn Urias, and Ashley Brown as the Cougars wrap up regular season play inside Bohler Gym.
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