Second half drought dooms Cougs

WASHINGTON STATE for the most part played suffocating defense and was hitting their shots in the first half. The final 20 minutes was a decidedly different story. Unable to handle an extended zone press by Oregon State, Wazzu went ice cold from the field and looked awkward doing it. The end result was a 54-52 defeat on the home floor in Pullman.

It all started out just fine for Cougar fans.

Washington State was sharp on offense and defense -- and the Beavers were struggling against Washington State's man defense throughout the first 20 minutes. It was a complete role reversal in the second half -- the Cougars settled for too many outside shots, lost their defensive focus and drew more iron than net.

"More disappointing was the amount of back door cuts (allowed)...You can't give them that many easy shots," said Tony Bennett on the post game radio show. "Our defense is really set up for that, to absorb those cuts."

"The way we played the first half was solid."

Oregon State took their first lead of the game with 7:28 remaining and slowly built a seven-point advantage. The Cougs clawed their way back, however, and their best chance came trailing by two with the ball and the shot clock off. Bennett elected not to call a timeout and Rochestie's awkward runner looked good in the air but rattled out.

Washington State allowed OSU only 20 points in the first half. They also had six blocks in the game -- but connected on only 8-of-24 shots in the second.

Klay Thompson led Wazzu with 20 points, finishing 4-of-9 from behind the arc. Like the rest of the Cougars, his shooting percentage tailed off in the second half. Taylor Rochestie only took one shot in the first half.

The Cougs were mostly running their first half offense to get open looks for Thompson but with Wazzu having fewer scoring threats this season than in years past, WSU isn't going to win many games if Rochestie is taking as few of shots as he did in the first half on Saturday.

When Rochestie finally did start letting them go, he was never able to find a rhythm. He ended the night 2-for-11 from the floor.

With the Cougars holding a 32-20 advantage at the break, Oregon State came out of the break with a sense of purpose that was lacking in the first half. They were more active than the Cougars and ripped off a 9-2 run to tighten things up considerably.

"The way we came out in the second half, some guys not playing with a sense of urgency, that can't happen," said Bennett.

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