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Why did WSU lose to Oregon State? The backups missed some open shots

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Also, toughness! (Again!)

Arizona v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Hello, friends, and welcome back to the latest edition of Why Did WSU Basketball Lose This Time?, brought to you by Ernie Kent.

WSU basketball is enduring its longest stretch of ineptitude since Paul Graham roamed the sidelines at Friel Court — the Cougs are 44-72 overall under Ernie Kent and 15-50 in Pac-12 play — which means there are lots of opportunities for Kent to provide excuses reasons for his team’s latest stumble.

Often, these excuses reasons are fairly nonsensical, and sometimes will even contradict previous excuses reasons — this one is the gold standard. These excuses reasons often also tend to subtly shift the blame away from coaching and toward some sort of inherent problem with the players themselves.

Since the Cougs have now lost 14 of 17 games and this season is now once again devoid of interesting on-court results, we’re entertaining ourselves by debunking our coach’s most recent excuses reasons for a loss.


The Washington State Cougars lost by 32 points to the Oregon State Beavers last night. A 20-0 run that spanned the end of the first half and the beginning of the second turned a tie game into a contest where OSU’s win probability sat at greater than 98 percent with 18 minutes to play, according to kenpom.com.

After the game, WSU coach Ernie Kent hit on a familiar refrain in trying to explain what happened.

“I thought we played really well for the first 15-16 minutes of the game ... and then there was, turnover, turnover, missed shot, bad shot. It was a 13-0 run even with taking timeouts ... and there was the game right there again where it got away from you … We just buckled a little bit in that first half and never got it back.”

Hmmmmm. This is a little subtle by Ernie’s standards, but it sure sounds a lot like he’s going back to the “mental toughness” well.

(You’ll also note how Ernie made sure to tell you that he called timeouts; in other words, he did what he could to stop it, but by golly, the players just couldn’t get their act together.)

Also, if I can interject for a moment: I find this sort of reasoning absolutely infuriating. Teams go cold from the field. It happens sometimes. Granted, five minutes without scoring is longer than usual. That said, you want to know why this was a 20-0 run that buried them instead of a 10-0 or even 14-0 run that would have at least left the door cracked? Because they don’t defend. At all. Oregon State scored 94 dang points (season high) on 72 possessions for a 1.31 points per possession clip (also a season high). You’ll be shocked to find out that Ernie never once mentioned defense in his assessment of the game.

He didn’t stop there, though.

With 12 minutes to go in the second half — and the Cougs down 24 — Kent decided to sub in little-used Davante Cooper and even lesser used former walk-on Steven Shpreyregin for Malachi Flynn and Jeff Pollard. They joined reserve guard Kwinton Hinson (who had replaced the injured Carter Skaggs a minute before) and starters Viont’e Daniels and Robert Franks.

After trimming just a few points off the lead over the next 2:30, Kent made one more move, replacing Franks with another deep reserve: Arinze Chidom.

Over the next minute and change, Shpreyregin-Daniels-Hinson-Chidom-Cooper made a couple of buckets to drop the margin to 16. A couple of free throws by OSU, pushed it back to 18, then a free throw by Hinson dropped it back to 17 with 7:39 to play.

What happened next, coach?

“That group battled their tail off. They cut that lead to 14 [sic], and I think we counted seven missed shots, four of them wide open threes, that would have made a big difference in that game, might have put a little more pressure on them. And to their credit, they withstood our run coming back in it and they did a good job closing out the game.

Hmmmm ... beyond the faulty memory as to how close the game actually got, that’s an interesting assessment, coach.

Ernie appears to be lamenting that a pair of little-used, mediocre three-point shooters (Chidom, 37 percent on 35 on 3FGA this year, and Hinson, 33 percent on 40 3FGA) and Daniels (50 of 110) couldn’t hit a trio of three pointers consecutively to take advantage of OSU blowing a pair of layups and missing the front end of a 1-and-1.

If literally everything went our way for a few minutes, we might have been able to pull within single digits, you guys!

So there you have it. WSU lost to OSU by 32 points because they weren’t tough enough to withstand OSU’s run, and because a bunch of backups couldn’t hit a bunch of threes in a row to “make a big difference in the game.”

And with that, toughness has pulled into the lead!

Ernie Kent Ridiculous Excuse Leaderboard

Excuse Count
Excuse Count
Toughness 3
Inexperience 2
Slow refs 1
Bad shooting by backups 1
Ken Bone 1
Lack of student support 1
It's just a tough job 1
NCAA rules 1