Isaiah White had a big week for Utah Valley, averaging 17.0 points and 11.5 rebounds as the Wolverines went 1-1 to start the 2019-20 season. Courtesy Utah Valley Athletics.

What Went Wrong for WAC Hoops Teams on Winless Saturday?

To put it lightly, it was a really rough Saturday for WAC Hoops. An 0-5 Saturday to put it precisely. Some losses were somewhat expected. But others might have made fans realize that the WAC might be in for a down year. Perhaps it is too early to tell what Saturday meant. However, one thing is clear and that is that the WAC had a very bad Saturday early in the season.

Let’s first look at the losses that were somewhat expected.

Oklahoma State Dominates the Paint in Win Over Kansas City

Going into this contest at historic Gallagher-Iba Arena, everyone knew it would be a test for Kansas City. In all reality, though, the Roos held their own. Had it not been for a porous first half shooting display, Kansas City might have even pulled off the upset. For reference, Kansas City shot just 35.4 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from the 3-point line. The biggest stat where Oklahoma State had an advantage was points in the paint. The Cowboys outscored the Roos 42-18 in the paint. 

However, outside of points in the paint and field goal percentage, everything else is about equal. And here is something to think about…Kansas City guard Brandon McKissic only had five points in the contest. In fact, Javan White was the lone ‘Roo to score in double figures with 20. 

It’s early in Kansas City but new head coach Billy Donlon is getting the most out of his team. It is a difficult week for the ‘Roos who travel to Drake and Milwaukee. It should tell us more about what Kansas City will be about this season.

Jackrabbits Give Summit League an Early Lead with Double OT Win at Bakersfield

If you weren’t watching the CSU Bakersfield-South Dakota State game on Saturday night, you missed out on some real entertainment. It took two overtimes to decide a winner in this super-competitive ball game. Yes, the Jackrabbits won 93-91 and beat a WAC team for the second time in the first week of the season. However, CSU Bakersfield showed something Saturday night. And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a Rod Barnes-coached team competes at a high level. Sure, the thought was that without Jarkell Joiner, Rickey Holden and Damiyne Durham, the Roadrunners might be in trouble. 

However, Taze Moore and Shawn Stith give the Roadrunners some athleticism and some size. Stith is a load down low and he showed that Saturday night, finishing with 26 points. Moore finished with 22 points in the contest. And let’s not forget that this game was against the defending Summit League Regular Season Champs. 

Keep an eye on the Roadrunners on Wednesday night when they play at Missouri Valley Conference foe Northern Iowa. 

Utah Valley and Seattle Lose Winnable Games in Similar Fashion

For Utah Valley, a one-point lead with 11:48 to play, turned into a 12-point deficit just five minute later. The Wolverines could not recover from a 14-1 run and Denver knocked off the Utah Valley 74-62. The Pioneers hit a 3-pointer on four straight possessions. Guard Joseph Lanzi hit three of those 3-pointers. It wasn’t like Denver dominated the game by any means. The Pioneers just made a run late in the game that Utah Vally was unable to answer. Utah Valley shot 43 percent from the field. Denver shot 48 percent. Utah Valley hit five 3-pointers, Denver hit seven. Utah Valley had 37 rebounds, Denver had 29. The Wolverines were 11-14 from the free throw line while Denver was just 3-6. One huge run late in the second half was the difference for Denver. 

In a similar way, Seattle blew a win against Eastern Washington. The Redhawks led 36-30 at the break and out of the halftime locker room, Delante Jones hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to nine. But then Seattle went ice cold from the field and Eastern Washington took advantage. Eastern Washington went on a 13-2 run late in the second half and Seattle never recovered. The Eagles shot 57 percent in the second half and out-rebounded Seattle 25-15 to win the in-state battle, 74-66. After the game, head coach Jim Hayford didn’t mince words.

“There are no excuses – they won,” Hayford said. “We need to shoot the ball a whole lot better. We had a good first half because we rebounded well. But Eastern shored up their rebounding in the second half. At the end of the day, you’ve got to make baskets. In these two losses to Washington State and Eastern, we were 4-32 from three. I believe in our guys. We’re going to work it out, we just need to find our shooting touch.”

Seattle hosts Pacific University before traveling to the East Coast to take on Syracuse and Ole Miss as part of the 2019 NIT Season Tip-Off Early Round.

Big First Half Hole Too Much to Overcome for Chicago State

If there is one team to cheer for to be more competitive, it is Chicago State.

Xavier Johnson earned WAC Player of the Week honors after averaging 28.0 points per game as Chicago State started the season 1-1. Courtesy Chicago State Athletics.

And in the first two games of the season, the Cougars have shown some fight. On Saturday, hosting Loyola-Maryland at the Jones Convocation Center, Chicago State just fell behind by too much in the first half and the Cougars weren’t able to dig themselves out in the second half. Andrew Kostecka helped the Greyhounds take a 53-37 lead into the halftime locker room. Chicago State hung around in the second half and even outscored the Greyhounds, 48-45, led by Xavier Johnson but the hole was just too big.

Xavier Johnson had a team-high 19 points and four other Cougars scored in double figures, as well. For his efforts against both Judson and Loyola-Maryland, Johnson earned WAC Player of the Week honors. 

Chicago State shot 48.2 percent from the field and went 25-35 from the free throw line. Overall, the game was pretty even except that the Greyhounds hit 11 3-pointers in the contest. Nine of those 11 came in the first half. 

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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