YOU SURE WOULDN'T know WSU came into this game holding opponents to 38.2 percent shooting. Oregon forward Olu Ashaolu had so many first half dunks during the first half it was hard to tell if you were watching live or a video game. And the outcome was never in doubt as the Cougars lost their Pac-12 opener, 92-75, Thursday before 9,889 in attendance at Spokane Arena.
WSU made Ashaolu look like a star, not the graduate student who transferred from Louisiana Tech for his final season of eligibility, and who had averaged just 7.4 points per game in nonconference play. Ashaolu, who converted 7 of 8 shots en route to 19 points at half, might as well have been the Pac-12’s next great NBA prospect with his performance against WSU.
“Those looks mostly were layups and dunks,” Bone said during a postgame radio interview. “We came out maybe a little bit flat. They picked us apart in every way you can.”
"Maybe?" Any flatter and WSU would have been underneath a rolling pin.
The Cougars (8-5 overall, 0-1 conference) also did little to contain the Ducks’ outside shooters, who hit 7 of 11 3-pointers in the first half. Oregon also shot 71 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes en route to a 54-34 lead at the intermission.
Oregon shot a stunning 69 percent for the game.
It marked the best shooting percentage against WSU since Gonzaga shot 71 percent in a 96-58 win on Dec. 28, 2003.
“They put on a clinic during that first half offensively,” Bone said. “They dictated the flow and speed of the game.”
It almost seemed comical that one of the biggest concerns toward the end of nonconference play was an aggressive, pressure defense that necessitated coach Ken Bone to make frequent substitutions.
WAZZU AGAIN struggled offensively, but the performance of freshman DaVonté Lacy might have been enough to keep the Cougars close with a better defensive effort. With the Cougars trailing 25-9 midway through the first half, Lacy hit three straight 3-pointers in a 56-second span.
“There’s no way you guess that he’s a freshman,” Kent said. “He’s going to be a special player. Keep your eye on him.”
Indeed, Lacy did about the best impersonation of Klay Thompson, who averaged 21.6 points per game last season and now plays in the NBA for Golden State, WSU fans might see this season. Lacy hit five 3-pointers and converted 7 of 9 field goals to finish with a team-high 19 points.
“DaVonté was hitting some and it was the only way we were scoring,” said Bone, adding that the only reason Lacy left the game at times was because he was in foul trouble and eventually was disqualified during the second half.
BUT HE RECEIVED almost no help in a contest, against an average Pac-12 opponent, where the Cougars looked every part of a 10th-place team, which is where they were tabbed in the preseason media poll.
Bone long has maintained that senior guard Faisal Aden, who never has been heralded for his defense, needs to play significant minutes because of his offensive prowess. But Aden was inefficient against the Ducks, shooting just 2 of 10 from the field to finish with four points.
Aden’s counterpart at Oregon, Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph finished with 17 oints on 6 of 9 shooting. His 3-pointer with 5:30 minutes left gave the Ducks a 83-63 lead and essentially ended any comeback prospects.
In addition to Ashaolu and Joseph, forward E.J. Singler had (13) and Garrett Sim (12) had double-digit points for Oregon (10-3, 1-0). Junior Reggie Moore (14) and Brock Motum (12) also scored in double figures for WSU, but they combined to shoot just 7 of 20 from the field.
The Cougars will have to recover quickly as they host Oregon State (10-3, 0-1), which lost 95-80 on Thursday at Washington, at 3 p.m. Saturday in Spokane (TV: Root Sports).
Bone said his team simply needs to flush the loss.
“We’ll move on,” he said. “It was such as poor experience that there’s no need to relive it.
“Oregon played a great game and we need to be better. We will and we’ll be back.”