PULLMAN - Washington State had won six straight heading into conference play but a poor shooting night doomed the Cougars against USC Thursday night.
The Cougars were held to just 28 percent shooting in the 65-56 loss at Beasley Coliseum. Isaac Bonton scored 18 points and Tony Miller had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Washington State (9-5). CJ Elleby, the Cougars leading scorer who averages 20.1 points per game, was held to seven points on 3-of-22 shooting. This was the first time this season Elleby has not scored in double figures.
Washington State was overpowered by the bigger and more physical Trojans to start Pac-12 play, posting both a season low in points and shooting percentage. The loss comes after the Cougars notched six consecutive wins against non-conference opponents and went undefeated in December.
The Cougars were outrebounded 46-36 and outscored 40-28 in the paint.
The Trojans jumped out to an early 22-9 lead after a 17-4 run that was sparked by a fast-break layup by Jonah Matthews.
Washington State responded with a 14-5 run over the last seven minutes to make it 31-27 at the break.
The Cougars got within three with 8:09 left in the second when Jervae Robinson stripped the ball and dished it to CJ Elleby for a monster dunk. That was the closest they got.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” said Washington State coach Kyle Smith said, “We can’t expect to win the way we shot it, we got to be more patient.”
The Cougars host UCLA on Saturday.