It all falls apart for Cougs in tourney loss

AP

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LAS VEGAS — A few aims were outlined for Washington State in hopes of a resurgence during the lead-up to its first-round Pac-12 tournament tilt with Oregon.

The Cougars had to win the defensive glass, create offensive opportunities via solid defense and, most importantly, limit the giveaways, which have been WSU’s bane all year.

The No. 11 seed Cougs did nothing of the sort, folding in all those and even more categories in suffering an embarrassing 84-51 blowout to sixth-seeded Oregon on Wednesday night at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

That makes 10 straight conference tournament defeats for Wazzu. Current Coug coach Ernie Kent lost to WSU as the Ducks’ boss in 2009.

That also makes the Cougs’ worst-ever Pac-12 tournament loss and UO’s largest margin of victory at the event.

And in general, the tournament’s grandest margin.

“People have talked about (UO) being the hottest team in the league,” Kent said. “Their length on the floor is really difficult to score on. ... When you combine that on the strength inside, the outside scoring, they’re a tough team.”

Almost all of the entertainment in the front-to-back rout came thanks to Bill Walton’s amusing color commentary.

The Cougars (11-21, 4-15) ended their 2018-19 campaign on a six-game skid and with one of their two worst outings — they coughed it up 20 times (13 assists), had only three points in the opening 10 minutes, and at that time, had four times as many turnovers as tallies.

It owed to all-around sloppiness, rash takes and several defensive lapses. Plus, the reanimated Ducks’ stout interior defense prohibited paint scoring and put restraints on WSU senior star Robert Franks (eight points on 2-of-9).

“(Turnovers) didn’t let us play our game,” said Franks, an all-league first-teamer. “It got us out of rhythm. And with turnovers and them getting out in the open court, it was tough for us to find rhythm anytime during the game.”

Oregon (20-12, 11-8), Kent’s alma mater and former 13-year employer, scored 26 points off turnovers and was again stellar defensively.

Over the Ducks’ previous four, they’d limited opponents to 51.5 points per game, and faintly improved upon that mark Wednesday. UO went up double figures in just seven minutes and promptly expanded the advantage to as many as 35 in the second half.

Really, it was over by the break — WSU was shooting 22.7 percent, had 16 turnovers and trailed by 17.

Any hope for a post-half Cougar response was quelled when UO sprung out a 9-0 run to open the second.

“I don’t think we helped the cause,” Kent said on the first. “... We just dug ourselves in a huge hole, because that length and athletic of a team, it’s very difficult to push back.”

Instead of seeking out lanes or getting the ball inside, Wazzu settled for a multitude of hasty 3-pointers (7-of-32), and didn’t log a high clip from anywhere (30.8 percent).

The Ducks didn’t shoot particularly well in the first — they were much better after intermission (49 percent in all) — but countless Wazzu attacking blunders and UO’s myriad opportunities in transition let that slide.

No one registered double digits for the Cougs, who were led by CJ Elleby and Marvin Cannon with nine apiece. Elleby also grabbed nine boards, but WSU was outrebounded by eight.

UO recorded 16 assists and apportioned the scoring — four were in double figures, the whole crew traded off highlight-reel moments, and Ehab Amin led UO with 17 points.

“We flew around on defense,” said UO coach Dana Altman, whose troupe gets No. 3 Utah tonight. “They did miss some open 3s, which really helped us out. ... For the most part I thought our activity was really good.”

WASHINGTON ST. (11-21)

Elleby 3-11 0-0 9, Pollard 1-2 0-0 3, Franks 2-9 4-4 8, Cannon 2-5 4-6 9, Robinson 3-9 1-2 7, Kunc 0-1 0-0 0, Wade 3-6 1-2 7, Cooper 0-0 0-0 0, Skaggs 2-5 0-0 6, Ali 0-4 2-2 2. Totals 16-52 12-16 51.

OREGON (20-12)

King 5-11 0-0 12, White 3-8 0-0 7, Okoro 4-7 0-0 8, Wooten 2-2 0-0 4, Pritchard 3-11 0-0 7, Norris 6-10 1-1 14, Amin 5-7 4-5 17, Richardson 3-5 3-4 10, Bailey 2-4 0-0 5, Johnson 0-2 0-0 0, Osborn 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-67 8-10 84.

Halftime_Oregon 37-20. 3-Point Goals_Washington St. 7-32 (Elleby 3-7, Skaggs 2-5, Pollard 1-2, Cannon 1-3, Kunc 0-1, Robinson 0-4, Ali 0-4, Franks 0-6), Oregon 10-28 (Amin 3-4, King 2-5, Richardson 1-2, Bailey 1-2, Norris 1-4, White 1-5, Pritchard 1-5, Johnson 0-1). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Washington St. 29 (Elleby 9), Oregon 38 (Okoro 8). Assists_Washington St. 13 (Franks 4), Oregon 16 (Richardson 5). Total Fouls_Washington St. 13, Oregon 19. A_8,876 (18,000).

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