PULLMAN – The small crowd, eerily quiet much of the evening, drifted out of Beasley Coliseum with faces that expressed resignation more than disappointment.
The intensity level of the Washington State Cougars often reflected that of the crowd until former Curtis High School star DaVonté Lacy keyed a dramatic late rally in a 67-66 loss to the scuffling Oregon State Beavers.
Lacy, a sophomore guard, banked in a 3-pointer at the final horn to finish with career highs of 27 points and seven 3-pointers. Lacy’s 5-of-6 accuracy on 3-pointers in the second half, when he scored 19 points, included 12 straight WSU points at one stetch.
“We competed down to the end,” Lacy said. “Fought our way back. We just came up short.”
The Cougars trailed by 10 or more much of the game – “We were kind of passive,” Lacy said – before nailing a stream of 3-pointers down the stretch. D.J. Shelton drained 3s on two straight possessions to narrow Oregon State’s lead to 64-63 with 1:15 remaining, but Roberto Nelson scored off one of the Beavers’ 12 offensive rebounds with 37 seconds to go.
After the Beavers used a couple of fouls they had to waste, Shelton clanked a 3 off the glass and rim with 6 seconds to go. OSU freshman reserve Langs Morris-Walker then hit one of two free throws.
The loss, Washington State’s fifth straight, left the Cougars alone in last place in the Pacific-12 Conference with six league games to play. The 23rd-ranked Oregon Ducks will visit Beasley at 4 p.m. Saturday (Pac-12 Networks).
WSU coach Ken Bone said he does not know if senior tri-captain and starting point guard Mike Ladd will be able to play Saturday. He sat out Wednesday’s game after an old knee injury acted up.
Bone praised walk-on freshmen Bryce Leavitt and Dominic Ballard, who teamed with Royce Woolridge to cover for Ladd before an announced crowd of 4,167.
Washington State (11-14 overall, 2-10 Pac-12) struggled to shoot 25 percent from the field early against the Pac-12’s worst defense. The Beavers (13-12, 3-9) pulled away early in the second half when the Cougars turned the ball over on four consecutive trips down the court.
The Cougars, last in the conference in scoring but first in defense at the start of the day, provided the league leaders in 3-point shooting percentage plenty of wide-open looks from beyond the arc. However, WSU finished with season highs of 14 3-pointers and 28 3-point attempts, including 10 of 15 in the second half.
Nelson led Oregon State with 17 points. Eric Moreland added 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Challe Barton, a sophomore guard who was averaging 2.0 points and had never hit more than one 3-pointer in a game, contributed career highs of 11 points and three 3s.