A year after losing at Stanford by 48 points, the Washington State Cougars didn’t fare much better under Kyle Smith’s leadership, losing to the Cardinal, 88-62.
The Cougars dropped to 10-7 overall and 1-3 in the Pac-12, while Stanford improved to 14-2 and 3-0.
There were no illusions that this was going to be an easy game for the Cougars; kenpom.com gave WSU just a 1-in-5 chance to win the game, and it was expected to be an uphill battle. What was not expected was for the game to be non-competitive almost from the outset. Five minutes into the game, Stanford led 12-2; 10 minutes into the game, Stanford led 26-4; by halftime, it was 46-18; after two possessions in the second half, it was 51-18.
The Cougars’ normally stout defense, which gives them a chance to stay in so many games, was a sieve as WSU struggled mightily to defend Stanford big man Oscar da Silva, who scored 15 points on seven shots. The Cardinal made 75% of their 2s and 39% of their 3s for a ridiculous effective shooting percentage of 69% — by far the most allowed by the Cougars this season.
Additionally, WSU wasn’t able to force turnovers as it typically does, taking the ball away just nine times. That led to the Cardinal scoring at a 1.27 points per possession clip. For context, the next-worst defensive performance this season was 1.15, and it was only the fifth time this year an opponent had scored better than 1.0 ppp against the Cougs.
The offense, which has been a struggle for the vast majority of the season, didn’t fare much better — 0.90 points per possession. This, despite shooting a season-high 44% from three on their 27 attempts. Turnovers were the main culprit, as WSU turned it over 18 times — or more than one out of every four possessions.
The one pleasant surprise was the emergence of Daron Henson. The junior college transfer, thought to be someone who could bring some scoring punch this year, has barely played. But with Tony Miller out of this game, Henson got his shot, and he responded with 12 points — which included hitting four of his first five 3s. Isaac Bonton led the team with 15 points, four assists and three rebounds.
CJ Elleby had another awful game, his third in the last four, scoring 6 points on 2-of-9 shooting with five turnovers.
WSU returns home to face the Oregon Ducks — one of the two best teams in the conference, along with the Arizona Wildcats — on Thursday at 6 p.m.