The Washington State Cougars fell to the Oregon Ducks, 68-61, in Eugene on Wednesday night. The contest was a tale of two halves, with the home team taking over the latter portion.
The Cougars came out playing well on offense and defense. They were getting open looks and hitting them. They were securing the glass against one of the best rebounding teams in the country. Mike Ladd was huge in the opening 20 minutes all around, and D.J. Shelton was holding down the paint inside. Unfortunately, both were in foul trouble and had to sit out extended minutes in the second half.
Everything that WSU was doing well in the first half went away in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Oregon was denying them open looks and getting an second chance seemingly every time down. Eventually, Oregon would seize the lead for good as the Cougars continue to struggle on offense.
E.J. Singler was a huge part of the Ducks' run in the second half. Of course. He finished with 19 points on 7-11 shooting.
WSU still had an opportunity in the final three minutes to stay with the Ducks. Down four, Brock Motum missed the front end of a 1-and-1, then Ladd went 0 for 2 on the next trip (went 2-6 down the stretch). Oregon built its lead up to 7 with under two minutes to play and it was all but over.
Ken Bone got desperate down the stretch. He inserted Keaton Hayenga, who inbounded the ball, came around three screens, and took a three. To his credit, his stroke looked good. But obviously, he missed. Was a strange, strange decision to say the least.
The second half was about as frustrating as possible. It felt like a slow, slow death. WSU was getting just enough stops to keep Oregon from making a quick run, but they would go so long without scoring that it felt like the game was lost even when the Cougs held the lead.
The game was certainly closer than expected, but that's no consolation for a team that has held a second-half lead in every Pac-12 game, but has just one conference win.