LAS VEGAS – Sustained success hasn’t been a strong suit for the Washington State men’s basketball team, which hasn’t won consecutive games since mid-December.
However, the Cougars entered their Pac-12 tournament opener Wednesday after claiming their biggest victory of the season, a blowout triumph over UCLA in the regular-season finale.
If it could beat the Bruins, then No. 11-seed Washington State could conceivably upset a No. 6 seed Stanford team that had lost three of its last four games.
It seemed a possible scenario when the Cougars led by two in the final 10 minutes. But that’s when the offense sputtered and stalled as Stanford seized control and handed WSU a 74-63 defeat, which capped the first day of action at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
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DaVonte Lacy scored 25 points and D.J. Shelton finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Cougars (10-21).
Royce Woolridge scored on a layup and sank a free throw that gave Washington State a 50-47 lead with 9:26 remaining.
Stanford answered with 10 consecutive points. The Cardinal used a 20-7 run to surge ahead 67-57 with 2:12 to play.
Chasson Randle led Stanford with 22 points and Dwight Powell had 16.
The Cardinal (20-11) faces No. 3 seed Arizona State (21-10) Thursday in a quarterfinal game.
“I’m proud of the fact that our kids persevered through a tough time,” coach Ken Bone said. “The other night we beat a really good UCLA team. We handled them well and then we competed well tonight against Stanford.”
Bone plans to meet soon with athletic director Bill Moos to discuss his past and future. WSU has an 80-86 record in five years under Bone and hasn’t finished higher than sixth in the conference standings.
There’s uncertainty if Bone will be retained despite two years and $1.7 million remaining on his contract.
When asked if he’s going to coach Washington State next season, Bone said: “I sure hope so. I have two years left on my contract. That’s what I would hope to be, but I don’t make that call.
“There’s someone higher up than I am at the university so I don’t know. … I have not been told a thing about my future at Washington State.”
If Lacy had a vote, the junior point guard would opt for Bone’s return.
“For a good man, you don’t make a case,” Lacy said. “I think he deserves it. Ever since his first year, there’s been a couple of bad breaks.
“It’s unfortunate, but in the end winning means a lot in this day and age and somebody has to take the blame. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is. It’s a business at the end of the day.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @percyallen.