WSU won 67-56 in the Hardwood Classic and ran its nonleague record to 8-4 entering Pac-12 play next week.
A week from its Pac-12 Conference basketball opener, Washington State looks to be somewhere short of formidable.
But then, so do most of the other 11 teams in the league.
The Cougars were by turns impressive and disconcerting Thursday night at KeyArena, but they had enough to get past Pepperdine, 67-56, in the annual Hardwood Classic.
WSU started miserably and pretty much ended it that way. Sandwiched in between were a majority of solid minutes, decent offensive execution and defensive stops to build a 50-27 lead with 11 minutes left.
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That lead melted to nine with 21 seconds showing, which left WSU coach Ken Bone with some frown wrinkles.
“I thought we played great defense, we were intense, but that last six or eight minutes was disappointing,” said Bone. “I thought we got real content with a big lead.”
The victory, in front of 9,381, gave WSU an 8-4 record and a six-game winning streak headed into next weekend’s league openers in Spokane with Oregon and Oregon State. The Cougars look the part of a team that won’t do better than the middle of the conference, but then again, it’s clearly a down year in the league.
Thursday night, they continued to meld three key players — Faisal Aden, Abe Lodwick and Mike Ladd — back into the lineup after recent injuries, and the revised rotation is still evolving. Aden, off the bench, scored 17 points in 21 minutes.
“I keep the same mentality,” said Aden, and that appears to be to shoot early and often. “We just gotta figure it out. It’s conference time, and we just gotta figure it out — no ifs, ands or buts.
“It’s huge for us to get home wins. It would give us more confidence.”
This one began inauspiciously, as the Cougars missed their first eight shots. But no problem — the Waves, figured to be a lower-rung team in the West Coast Conference, were fluffing their first six, including two air balls. So it was scoreless at the first TV timeout.
“It would be frustrating if we weren’t getting stops,” Aden said. “But they weren’t scoring, either. As long as we keep playing defense, our offense is going to come.”
Aden got the Cougars on the board with a trey, and after the Waves answered it, Lodwick and freshman DaVonte Lacy added threes for the Cougars, and they never trailed from there.
At 11-7, the Cougars ran off 10 straight points, Aden getting three hoops. It was 26-15 at halftime and the Waves, shooting just .392 entering the game, were 6 of 26 (.231) before intermission.
After the teams traded 6-0 runs at the outset of the second half, the Cougars had an 11-2 burst finished by Aden’s steal and layup, and it was 43-23.
But the Cougars lapsed, allowing Pepperdine 15 offensive boards, and Bone wasn’t happy with the finish.
“We’re really trying to value each possession at both ends,” he said. “Tonight, I think we took a step back in that area.”
Reggie Moore, the ex-Rainier Beach point guard, had a game-high six assists for the Cougars, but was only 1 of 5 from the field and said, “I’m not playing really well right now, but I’m going to pick it up, I promise you that.”
Bone is giving his team three days off before it gathers again Dec. 26 in preparation for the Ducks, who improved to 9-3 by beating Stephen F. Austin Thursday.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Percentages: FG .356, FT .625. Three-point goals: 4-15, .267 (Lowery 2-3, Skouen 1-2, Moore 1-4, Harold 0-2, Baker 0-4). Team rebounds: 7. Blocked shots: 7 (Harold 2, Moore 2, Skouen, Baker, Darby). Turnovers: 11 (Baker 5, Willis 2, Skouen, Harold, Moore, Lowery). Steals: 5 (Lowery 3, Willis, Darby). Technical fouls: None.
|WASHINGTON ST. (8-4)|
Percentages: FG .404, FT .737. Three-point goals: 7-16, .438 (Lacy 3-5, Aden 2-5, Moore 1-1, Lodwick 1-3, Simon 0-1, Ladd 0-1). Team rebounds: 9. Blocked shots: 5 (Enquist 2, Capers, Shelton, Lodwick). Turnovers: 10 (Motum 4, Moore 2, Capers 2, DiIorio, Aden). Steals: 6 (Aden 2, Capers, Shelton, Enquist, Motum). Technical fouls: None.
Attendance: 9,831. Officials: Dick Cartmell, Deron White, Melvin Landry.