WSU Vs. Gonzaga: Cougs' Late Rally Falls Short, Zags Win 89-81

Gonzaga jumped on Washington State early with a flurry of three-pointers from freshman Kevin Pangos and it proved to be just enough down the stretch as the Bulldogs nearly blew a twenty-point lead.

Washington State was able to close within three points on two occasions in the final minute, but the only time they were within three and had the ball was their very first possession of the game. While the three-point shooting of Gonzaga was killer in the first half, free throws allowed them to hang onto the lead in the second half.

In the end, both teams had offensive efficiencies over 130 for the game and both teams had eFG% over 50.  Defense was optional.

A few bullet points to chew on before I go get some much-needed sleep:

  • The seniors on this team are more of the same. Faisal Aden had a nice stretch on offense early in the game, but was pulled in the second half after taking bad shots and playing his usual brand of defense. Marcus Capers still provides very little on the offensive end, and was made to look bad a few times by Pangos this evening.
  • DaVonte Lacy had a rough start to his Cougar career in the first half, drawing two fouls very quickly. However, in the second half he played a key role in bringing the Cougs back, knocking down huge shots and making some very nifty moves in the open floor. Very hard not to get excited about this kid.
  • Mychal Ladd still has a ways to go on the defensive end, but he can fill it up in a hurry on offense. The combination of Ladd and Lacy gave the Cougars a spark in the final ten minutes.
  • Reggie Moore definitely looked limited. Sure, he was getting by his defender and getting in the paint, but he wasn't able to do much when got there. His play in the final ten minutes was huge in the comeback, but we still don't have that Reggie that gets all way to the rim. It would have been nice to see him finish some of his drives and get Robert Sacre out of the game. I will say he played a very tough game, and the Cougs wouldn't have been in it without him. Maybe he can take a break against Sacramento State and let that groin heal a little bit. Moore had 14 points on about 15 possessions used. Four turnovers were killer.
  • Brock Motum was all the Cougs had on the offensive end at times. He dunked! Who knew he could dunk? He even fooled Doris, who thought he was "athletic." He also pulled down six defensive rebounds, which may match his entire career output thus far. Like Moore, he had four turnovers that limited his efficiency, as did his poor foul shooting. Thus, in a game where offense was everywhere, he finished just under one point per possession used.
  • While I'm talking about efficiency, Ladd and Lacy combined for 24 points on 19 possessions used, most of which came in the late run. Compare that to the starter Aden, who used 15 possessions to score 12 points playing a very similar role.
  • Charlie Enquist had four points. In the Powers household, we call those bonus points.
  • DJ Shelton played with energy, but looks raw. Had a lot of trouble finishing around the basket.
  • Will DiIorio was playing the four at the end. His fouls hurt a lot, but there probably wasn't much more he could do against Sacre. He was very close to making a huge impact, but missed two putbacks in crucial moments.

In the end, it's hard not be a little optimistic about that game. WSU fought hard at the end when they very well could have packed it in down 20. Ken Bone changed up the lineup and it worked very well. The trapping style defense also created some turnovers and bad shots out of Gonzaga. The problem is that is a very difficult defense to keep up for a full forty minutes without supreme depth, and that is why they used it sparingly. 

It's crazy to think what might have been if Gonzaga didn't go bananas from three at the beginning, but WSU was leaving the shooters open. Pangos will probably never go 9-13 from three again in his life, but each and every shot he hit was with feet set and a clear look at the basket. That is asking for trouble.

Let's hope that WSU gets that defense figured out before conference play comes around, or it could be a very long season. It is encouraging to know that there are some scorers on the team that may allow them to win a shootout here and there.  All I know is that I want to see more of Lacy and Ladd and less of Aden going forward. Aden has had his chance to prove himself, and all he has shown is that he not an efficient player and is unwilling to play in the offense and just take the good shots. Lacy and Ladd were taking open looks, and their numbers tell the story.

The good news is that this will probably be the best team WSU faces until conference play comes around. Playing the likes of Sacramento State and Western Oregon will give the coach the chance to play with the lineups and find what works.

I'm officially at rambling on status now. Time to wrap this up. How do you guys feel after that game?

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