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76 Classic 2011: WSU Digs An Early Hole, Loses To New Mexico 72-62

Washington State dropped its second straight game of the 2011 76 Classic as they fell to the New Mexico Lobos on Friday night. WSU fell down big early as it turned the ball over on four of its first eight possessions.  The Cougars cleaned up their play in the second half, but were unable to get any closer than seven points after the opening moments.

Faisal Aden led WSU with 25 points on 10/16 shooting with 4 rebounds and three assists. Aden played an excellent second half on offense, carrying the Cougs with his shooting and setting up Brock Motum for layups on three drives to the basket. He is a very streaky player, and for the last twenty minutes he hit a good one.

Motum was largely invisible on offense until Aden set him up for the last three looks. He finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. His improvement in the defensive rebounding game is still encouraging. The team as a whole did well on the defensive glass, limiting New Mexico to grabbing only around a quarter of their own misses.

Unfortunately, there wasn't much outside of Aden on offense tonight. The Cougs were only able to put together about 0.87 points per possession. Much of the damage was done in the first ten minutes, as WSU struggled to hang on to the ball and couldn't make any shots when they did.

Reggie Moore was more aggressive offensively, but it did not lead to good results. He was just 3-12 from the field, scoring nine points on about 17 possessions used. Moore did some work to alleviate that with his ability to distribute as he finished with eight assists.

This was another game when WSU was burned from beyond the three-point line. The Lobos knocked down 9 of 19 attempts. Outside of that, the defense was pretty effective after switching to a zone. In the end, New Mexico ended up right around one point per possession.

This is a game where WSU really killed their chances early. If they had played better coming out of the gate things could have ended differently. Even as they improved, they could never string enough stops together to get a run going and couldn't hit the big shots to cut the lead down when they had the chance.

WSU now faces UC Riverside to close out the tournament on Sunday at 10:30 AM in a battle for seventh place. The game will not be televised.