Washington State’s losing streak reached eight games with a 73-56 road loss to No. 12 Arizona on Saturday.
The consolation for the Pacific-12 Conference’s last-place team is that after falling far behind, the Cougars rallied to keep things sort of close and give Arizona coach Sean Miller something to grumble about afterward.
“We fought hard in the second half,” Washington State’s Royce Woolridge said. “Had we come out with more energy in the first half I think it could’ve been a different game.”
Better free throw shooting would have helped, too.
The Cougars (11-17 overall, 2-13 Pac-12) made 14 of 28 from the line.
“We missed a lot of easy layups, we had some wide-open looks at the perimeter and obviously free throws were difficult tonight,” said Brock Motum, who led Washington State with 20 points despite 5-of-11 shooting from the foul line.
The 17-point victory left Arizona’s Miller in no mood to lavish praise on his team, particularly because of the 12th-ranked Wildcats’ dubious second-half effort on defense, something that’s become a distressing pattern.
If not for Kevin Parrom’s offense, and Washington State’s lousy free throw shooting, the win would have been a whole lot closer. Parrom matched his career best with five 3 pointers — in six tries — scoring a season-high 19 points.
“I don’t know where we would be in this game if Kevin didn’t play the way he played,” Miller said.
The senior entered the game shooting 26 percent from 3-point range in conference play and was just 2 of 12 in his previous six outings. But he had the touch from the start this time, opening two 3s and the Wildcats (23-4, 11-4) led all the way.
“I was happy the first one went in,” he said, “because I don’t remember the last time I made a 3.”
Mark Lyons, feeling a bit under the weather, added 14 points and freshman Kaleb Tarczewski had a career-best 12 for the Wildcats, who began the day tied with Oregon atop the Pac-12.
Curtis grad DaVonté Lacy added 10 points for Washington State, eight in the second half.
Shortly after Parrom’s two 3s made it 6-0, the Cougars went exactly 10 minutes without a field goal, resulting in a 14-2 Arizona run that put the Wildcats up 20-7 on Solomon Hill’s 15-footer with 8:45 to play in the half.
Washington State shot 35 percent and committed eight turnovers in the first half. And the Cougars were 5 of 11 from the foul line in the opening 20 minutes.
Cougars coach Ken Bone lamented his team’s slow start but at least liked the last 20 minutes.
“I think we were the more aggressive team (in the second half),” he said. “We attacked the rim. We made a few 3s, although we still didn’t make our free throws.”
At No. 23 Oregon 77, Stanford 66: Johnathan Loyd had season highs of 15 points and nine assists to lead the Ducks (22-6, 11-4) over the Cardinal (16-12, 7-8).
Carlos Emory led Oregon with 19 points and Arsalan Kazemi scored 15 points for the Ducks, who gave coach Dana Altman his 600th career win and kept themselves tied with Arizona atop the league standings.
Dwight Powell led Stanford with 16 points and Josh Huestis added 12 points and 13 rebounds.
California 69, at Oregon State 59: Justin Cobbs had 18 points and the surging Golden Bears (18-9, 10-5) won their fifth straight game by holding off a late rally from the Beavers (13-15, 3-12).
California has won seven of its last eight games, including victories over then-No. 7 Arizona and No. 23 Oregon.
The Golden Bears are suddenly sneaking up the Pac-12 standings, closing in on Arizona, Oregon and UCLA, and positioning themselves for a possible NCAA tournament berth with three games to go.