During the Cougars’ 69-56 loss Saturday against Stanford, Bone said the Cardinal “crowded” and used effective help-side defense to contain Lacy, who was limited to 13 points on 4 of 12 shooting. While WSU redshirt freshman guard Que Johnson (14 points) and senior forward D.J. Shelton (11) also reached double figures, they combined to shoot just 6 of 25 from the field. If defenses focus on Lacy, Bone said other players must “step up.”
That also was an issue for the Cougars (9-16 overall, 2-11 conference) during their 80-76 overtime loss Wednesday against California. Lacy scored 39 points, but outside of Shelton, who had 18 points and 19 rebounds, WSU lacked a significant contributor. Bone said he remains hopeful that junior guard Royce Woolridge, who has not scored in double figures for more than a month, can help fill that void. Woolridge has been ineffective since he shot 6 of 13 en route to 13 points Jan. 15 at Stanford.
“I don’t if it will come out, but I know it’s in there,” said Bone, referring to Woolridge.
The Cougars, who have lost four consecutive games, play their next three games on the road, where they are winless in Pac-12 play. They next play at 6 p.m. Thursday at Oregon State (TV: Pac-12 Networks). The Beavers (13-11, 5-7) are in ninth place, but their veteran-laden squad is 4-1 in conference play at home.
“I believe this is the best Oregon State team I’ve seen in the last 10 years,” said Bone, whose team lost 66-55 on Jan. 22 against the Beavers. “Offensively speaking they’re very good.”
Bone also said he is confounded by Oregon’s struggles. The Ducks (16-8, 4-8) are in 10th place after winning their first 13 games of the season. The Cougars play them at 6 p.m. Sunday (TV: Pac-12 Networks).
“Once they got beat, I’m not sure what happened,” said Bone, referring to Oregon’s 100-91 loss Jan. 5 at Colorado. “They’re deep, good and confident.”
In addition to Lacy, Bone is hopeful Shelton can play well against the Oregon schools. Shelton scored a season-high 24 points during WSU’s previous game against the Beavers. That came right after a 17-point performance Jan. 18 at California, which is the game where Bone felt Shelton broke out.
“He scored really well and got confident in what he was able to do,” Bone said. “D.J.’s coming into his own. A lot of times you will see a senior do that when there’s a sense of urgency.”
But Bone said Shelton is not the only player who feels that way as the Cougars play their final five conference games before the Pac-12 Tournament.
“Just like last year our guys stuck to it,” he said. “I thought our guys played their best basketball at the end of the season.
“It’s that time of the year where we need to win. We’re fighting to win.”
Bone lauded the performance of true freshman guard Ike Iroegbu, who moved into the starting lineup last week. Iroegbu scored a combined seven points in those games, but Bone said he has improved in other areas, such as how to set up a play.
“I think he’s handled the situation well,” Bone said. “He’s going to be a really good player here for the next four years.”