Oregon St. (12-12, 2-9) at Washington St. (11-13, 2-9) / Friel Court / 7 PM PST / Pac-12 Channel / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. begins their state of Washington trip of the season with a visit to Beasley Arena in Pullman to take on Washington St. tonight. Its yet another "Basement Bowl", in that the Beavers and Cougars are tied with Utah for 10th (and last) place in the Pac-12.
The Cougars prevailed 71-68 late last month in the year's first meeting in Corvallis, capitalizing on distinct advantages on the boards and at the free throw line. In a close competitive game overshadowed by shadowy officiating, Washington St. made 14 of 18 free throws, while Oregon St. was only 7 of 13, and the Beavers were also out-rebounded 33-22.
Washington St., which has won 6 of the last 7 games against Oregon St., and 12 of 15, was led by by hot shooting Mike Ladd, who made 10 of 11 shots, and finished with a game high 23 points. Brock Motum, long a thorn under the Beavers' tail, added a 20 point, 10 rebound double double.
It was too much for Oregon St. to overcome, despite a big backcourt game by Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson, who had 17 & 14 points respectively, and also combined for 11 assists. Devon Collier contributed 14 points as well, but Joe Burton and Eric Moreland only managed 11 points and 12 rebounds between them, though they did combine for 4 blocked shots.
Both teams enter the game coming off losses. The Cougars dropped a 76-62 decision at UCLA Saturday, extending their current losing streak to 4 games. Motum, WAshington St.'s leading scorer and rebounder, matched UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad, as both had not only a co-game high 17 points, but also 4 rebounds, and even 2 assists, each. However, Washington St. only got major production from 2 others, Royce Woolridge, with 16 points, and DaVonte Lacy, with 10, while the Bruins had 3 other players in double digits, as Jordan Adams finished with 14 points, Kyle Anderson 12, and Travis Wear 11, while Larry Drew II just missed, with 9 points, but added 8 assists. The Bruins shredded the Cougar defense with 62% shooting for the game.
The Beavers lost the brief dose of momentum their 18 point win over Utah had given them, coming up 4 points short against Colorado, falling 72-68 Sunday night. It was a game of 2 halves of guard play, as Starks had 17 of his 20 points before halftime, and Nelson 17 of his team high 21 in the second half.
But it was Colorado's getting to the line 24 times, and making 18 of them, while Oregon St. only took 8 free throws, though they did make 7 of them, coupled with a 3:2 rebounding edge, and a +12 edge in turnovers, that set the table, and the Buffs' Spencer Dinwiddie took advantage, with a perfect shooting night. Dinwiddie had a game high 24 points because he never missed a shot, going 6 of 6 from the field, including 4 of 4 on 3 pointers, and 8 of 8 at the free throw line.
Clearly, Oregon St. needs to rebound better, and adjust defensively to slow down whomever emerges as Washington St.'s hot hand if they are to emerge from Beasley Arena with the win.
That person who has the hot hand won't be Ladd, though. Ladd is out of tonight's game with a left knee injury.
Starks' 6 3 pointers against Utah did move him into a tie with Gary Payton for 3rd place on the Oregon St. career 3 pointer list, and he needs 3 to become the all-time leader from behind the arc, as Deaundra Tanner is only 1 ahead, and Chris Stephens 2.
The game has become nearly a must win for both teams, who can still salvage a second or third tier tournament post-season with a strong finish to their season, while a loss to a lower tier team will make climbing high enough to keep playing post the Pac-12 tournament increasingly difficult.
The Beavers have been competitive all season though, with only 1 loss by more than 10 points. The Cougars on the other hand, have 5 losses by more than 10 points. Will Washington St. fold if Oregon St. can get well ahead? Or will the Beavers "Coug" it, and find a way to lose another close one?