After starting off the season 2-0 in conference play, the Washington State Cougars have crashed hard back down to earth.
Tonight the Cougars were outplayed and outcoached by the Stanford Cardinal (9-8, 1-4) and Jerod Haase as Washington State (9-7, 2-1) fell 84-54 to the trees.
It was both a brutal start for the Cougs and a strong start for the Cardinal who opened up the game with a 7-0 run. Quickly 7-0 turned into 15-3 which turned into 27-7 just ten minutes in.
It was reported on the Pac-12 broadcast that the Cougars arrived late into the Bay Area last night, resulting in them missing an evening practice. Let me emphasize this is really nothing to read into, but if you’re into making excuses for a sub-par basketball team, you have one now.
Stanford’s defense caused problems for Washington State from the start of the game. Employing a relentless man-defense, the Cardinal held Ike Iroegbu and Josh Hawkinson to a combined 13 points. With the exception of two baskets on back-to-back possessions, Conor Clifford struggled to fight through the double-team Stanford defended him with, turning the ball over twice and eliminating Washington State’s interior game. Malachi Flynn also struggled early shooting 0-for-5 in the first 20 minutes.
On the other side of the ball, the Cougars got lit up early by a guy you’ve probably never heard of: Robert Cartwright. Cartwright shot 7-for-8 from the floor, including 3-for-4 from the three point line for a total of 18 points in the first half alone. With successful on and off-ball screens, Stanford got another ten points in the opening frame from Dorian Pickens as the Cardinal headed into halftime with a comfortable 48-23 lead.
The start of the second half was somewhat better for the Cougs as they hit a handful of shots before the first media timeout, however, Stanford hit its shots as well preventing the Cougars from cutting into Stanford’s lead.
After the first timeout, Stanford kept their foot on Washington State’s throat. For a team that was tied with Oregon at half just five days ago, this game was over minutes after it started.
Stanford finished the game shooting 55% from the floor to Washington State’s 32%.
Leading the Cougars in scoring was Clifford with 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor. Hawkinson and Iroegbu added 14 and 13, respectively. Robert Franks added ten points off the bench (in garbage time minutes) and Flynn finished 0-for-9 without a single point in the blowout loss.
Washington State will travel across the Bay Bridge to Berkeley on Saturday to face Cal (12-5, 3-2). Tip-off is set for 1 p.m and the broadcast will be on the Pac-12 Networks.