Your 2017 John Wooden Classic Champion Washington State Cougars took the court in Las Vegas for the 2nd round of the historic Continental Tire Classic and saw their preseason tournament winning streak snapped by the University of San Diego, 82-75. Isaiah Pineiro led the Toreros with 30 points and 8 rebounds. The Cougs definitely had their chances in this game, but couldn’t pull off the upset.
(I don’t know what it is about these Cougars where they seem to be a different team at times during these preseason tournaments, but I’m open to Ernie wearing tracksuits on the sideline for the rest of the season if we can get similar results. Or even worse ones. Let Ernie wear his tracksuit. Give us something to watch this year.)
Some streaky three-point shooting early from Marvin Cannon and Robert Franks opened things up early for the Cougs, jumping out to an early 19-9 lead. Turnovers abound over the next ten minutes allowed San Diego to chip back into it, led by 13 first half points from Pineiro. Ahmed Ali took advantage of some extra playing time after Jervae Robinson got into foul trouble, leading the Cougs with 8 points at the half, but ultimately the Toreros walked into halftime with a 40-38 lead.
Wazzu fell apart in the first couple minutes of the 2nd half, due to the hallmark of Cougar basketball over the last few years: turnovers and poor transition defense. Pineiro dropped ten points in the first five minutes by himself as San Diego took an eleven-point lead. Carter Skaggs caught fire with three three-pointers and eventually led to a tie ball game with two minutes left, but ultimately the Cougs couldn’t get any stops when it mattered, didn’t score for the remainder of the game, and San Diego pulled away for good. Franks led the Cougars with 22 points and CJ Elleby added nine rebounds.
Franks’ 22 points also put him over a thousand points for his career at Washington State.
So it looks like the way this tournament works, the Cougs will draw New Mexico State again on Sunday at 4 pm for the 3rd place game. So if you wanted to see what two losses to the same WAC school within two weeks does to your resume, looks like we might find out!