Washington State coach Ken Bone had seen enough Saturday night to shift his strategy during the Cougars’ 68-63 loss to Washington. The Huskies were carving up the Cougars as the second half wound down, so Bone commanded his players to foul repeatedly until Washington was in the bonus and forced to the free-throw line.
“We felt it was critical to get them into the bonus as soon as possible,” Bone said. “They had done a nice job of scoring and were very efficient the last four or five minutes per possession.”
Bone was right about that. Washington center Aziz N’Diaye made a layup with 5 minutes, 4 seconds remaining to start the Huskies on a 6-for-6 run from the field to close the game. Desmond Simmons dunked, Abdul Gaddy scored and Scott Suggs hit consecutive jumpers before heading off on the break for a layup with 1:01 remaining to put the Huskies up 64-61.
Washington answered Bone’s fouling strategy by going 4-for-5 from the free-throw line in the final minute. The only miss presented the biggest oddity of the night.
With eight seconds left, Gaddy was at the line for one-and-one. But, the referees thought Gaddy was receiving two shots. When Gaddy missed, everyone froze before the referees took the ball, seemingly prepared to give it back to Gaddy for another attempt.
Gaddy said Tuesday that he didn’t move because he thought the shot was going in. The referees realized their mistake and went to the possession arrow to give the ball to the Cougars, rightly giving it back to Washington State.
It was an odd twist in yet another tight loss for the Cougars. Four of their losses this season have come by a total of 10 points.
“All in all, we need to be better, I need to be better, down the stretch to help our guys win,” Bone said.
COLORADO’S BOYLE INSTANTLY DISPLEASED
Pacific-12 Conference referees were already enveloped by controversy prior to Washington’s game after they waved off a banked-in 3-pointer from Colorado’s Sabatino Chen that would have given the Buffs a buzzer-beating win at Arizona on Thursday.
Colorado coach Tad Boyle had previously stated his disdain for instant replay, although it provided Colorado with a win over Kansas State two years ago. Not surprisingly, he still doesn’t like the idea.
“I just feel in athletics, in general, we’ve been playing these games for over 100 years now,” Boyle said. “Human error is part of the game. There’s part of it with players, there’s part of it with coaches, there’s part of it with officials.
“And, I understand that I’m in the minority. But, if you ask me my opinion, I think officials are human. They’re going to make mistakes just like coaches and players are. Let’s play the game and let the chips fall where they may.”
After being considered an outside contender for the Pac-12 title and within the top four teams in the conference prior to the start of league play, Colorado is 0-2 after losing to Arizona in overtime and to Arizona State, 65-56.
Against Arizona State, Boyle was not happy with his team’s defense.
“We gave up 14 layups and we really weren’t pressuring the ball,” Boyle said. “How do you not pressure the ball and give up 14 layups? That’s confusing to me.”
The Buffs host USC and UCLA this week.
Utah is 0-2 in conference play but is playing exceptional defense. The Utes are using all sorts of tricks on defense, including triangle zones and box-and-ones. Utah leads the conference in field-goal percentage defense at a stingy 35.4 percent ... UCLA coach Ben Howland said star freshman Shabazz Muhammad is now out in front during conditioning drills, a change from earlier in the season when Muhammad was coming off a shoulder injury that didn’t even allow him to run for two weeks. ... Arizona State’s 13 blocked shots against Colorado were the most in a conference game since it had 13 vs. Washington on Jan. 9, firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas