Ken Bone has admitted to many missteps during his tenure at Washington State. Another glared Friday in what was likely his final Seattle game as Cougars head coach. In front of a ho-hum crowd of 7,647, WSU (9-19, 2-14 Pac-12) lost 72-49 to the Huskies (16-13, 8-8 Pac-12) in a game they never threatened to lead.
Afterward, in a dim tunnel inside Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Bone apologized for telling senior forward D.J. Shelton to keep shooting 3-pointers. Shelton missed all 10 attempts beyond the arc and went three-of-14 from the field.
“We kept encouraging him. It’s my fault. I kept encouraging him to shoot the three,” Bone said. “I kept saying, ‘Hey look, you’re a great shooter. We’re getting you the ball. Don’t think about it. Just shoot it.'”
“It’s not his fault. I guess it’s my fault. He missed a lot of threes. I was the one telling him to shoot it.”
Shelton scored seven points and pulled down 15 rebounds in 35 minutes, but his 3-point shooting percentage dropped to 25.7 percent after he missed his final six shots.
“We didn’t want to go away from guy like D.J., who has proven he can shoot it,” Bone said. “We just figured he’d hit one or two sooner or later.”
Washington was led by freshman guard Nigel Williams-Goss with 17 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Andrew Andrews had 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists as Washington won for the sixth time in seven games at home. Perris Blackwell added 10 points off the bench. Leading scorer C.J. Wilcox had eight.
DaVonte Lacy had 25 points as Washington State (9-19, 2-14) lost its seventh straight game and dropped to 0-9 on the road in the league. D.J. Shelton chipped in seven points and 15 rebounds for the Cougars, who did not make a field goal in the final 13 minutes.
In the second half, UW guard Darin Johnson (6-foot-5) checked Shelton when he was atop the key, as did small forward Mike Anderson (6-foot-4). Shelton, a 6-foot-10 forward, kept shooting. Bone said his second-leading scorer is allowed to post up when he recognizes a height advantage, but that UW’s help defense keyed on him in the first half after he knocked in a silky 10-foot jump hook after slowly backing down Shawn Kemp.
“We ran a couple of things for him to drive and on (two) possessions. Washington’s help defense was pretty good,” Bone said.
Last season, Bone moved Shelton from a power forward to a stretch-four when he recognized he needed more ball-handlers after guard Reggie Moore was kicked off the team before the start of the season.
“It’s the system for me to stay on the outside and help bring the ball up, pick-and-pop and stretch the defense” Shelton said. “It’s more the offense. It’s nothing that I’m choosing to do. That’s where I’m at on the court. If I’m open I’m going to shoot the ball.
“I felt like I was going to be able to post up more.”
He never did. The Cougars’ season-long shooting struggles continued. WSU finished 14 of 45 from the field (31.1 percent) and four of 23 from the 3-point line. It came against the Pac-12’s worst shooting defense.
“We didn’t hit shots,” WSU guard Davonte Lacy said. “We had wide-open looks, especially in the second half. We just didn’t hit shots. I think we ran our offense well. D.J. had a rough night shooting, which isn’t typical of him.”
After Lacy knocked in a three with 13:04 left, narrowing UW’s lead to 53-44, the Cougars didn’t make another field goal.
At halftime, the only Cougar with more than two points was Lacy, who finished with 25 points on six of 14 shooting (four of eight from three).
Seeking its first road conference road win, WSU fell in a 6-0 hole in the opening minutes after UW’s Andrew Andrews and C.J. Wilcox knocked in back-to-back 3-pointers.
The end of the half ended poorly for the Cougars, too. Wilcox gave the Huskies a 36-24 lead when he knocked in a wide-open 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds left before the break.
“Not to take anything away from Washington — I thought they were well-prepared and did a good job,” Bone said. “We had open shots . . . it just got away from us.”