Washington State makes 10th straight first round exit, bowing to Oregon 84-51 in Pac-12 Tournament
LAS VEGAS – They peaked in the desert nearly a month ago, beating Arizona State and Arizona with fluid ball movement, consistent shot-making from almost everyone in the rotation and sturdy defense.
Wednesday, it was a different type of desert and a much different fate for the 11th-seeded Cougars, who wilted the same way they have much of this Pac-12 basketball season, and withered away in the first round of the conference tournament for the 10th straight season with an 84-51 loss to sixth-seeded Oregon at T-Mobile Arena.
WSU finishes the 2018-19 basketball season with just 11 wins – exactly as many as Mike Leach’s Alamo Bowl-winning football team – and 20 losses. The Cougars, who went 4-15 against their own conference, will miss out on the postseason for the seventh straight year and extend the Pac-12’s longest NCAA Tournament drought to 11 years.
It was the largest margin of defeat for the Cougars in a Pac-12/10 Tournament game, beating a 25-point loss to Cal in 2015.
The one thing they’ve been trying to correct most of the last month came back to sting the Cougars – over and over again – in their sixth consecutive loss, and by the second half they looked like a team that had grown fatigued from watching the opponent turn their turnovers into quick buckets on the other end.
Constantly bothered by an Oregon team that’s as athletic as it is long, WSU committed 20 turnovers, leading to 26 Oregon points.
The miscues came early, they came often and they were largely the reason WSU went nearly 14 minutes in the first half with just one made field goal.
For 13:53, the Cougars were sitting on just five points, courtesy of a CJ Elleby elbow 3-pointer and two Marvin Cannon free throws. Elleby’s 3 was the first made shot of the game, but the Ducks followed with an 18-0 run and scored 22 of the game’s next 24 points.
During WSU’s scoreless stretch, the Cougars had 11 turnovers and missed nine straight shots. At one point, they had 12 turnovers compared to three points and finished the first half with 16 turnovers compared to 20 points.
WSU drew an Oregon team that was seeded just sixth, but one that also came to Las Vegas this week hotter than anyone else in the conference, having won each of its last four games.
The Ducks went to the halftime break with a 17-point lead and opened the second half on a 9-0 run. The Cougars kept their turnover count down in the second half, committing just four more the rest of the game, but Oregon boosted its 3-point totals, canning seven in the second half after making just three in the first.
For the first time this season, WSU didn’t have a single player finish in double figures. In his last college game, Pac-12 leading scorer Robert Franks scored just eight points on 2-of-9 shooting and 0-of-6 from three-point range. CJ Elleby and Marvin Cannon each had nine points for WSU, but combined to shoot 4-of-16 from the field and combined for nine turnovers.
Oregon got a game-high 17 points from Ehab Amin, 14 from Miles Norris, 12 from Louis King and 10 from Will Richardson.