Cougars Look Good in Pac-12 Win Over Utah


WSU men’s basketball (10-7, 1-3) took a nice step forward Wednesday night with a solid Pac-12 win over Utah (8-9, 0-5) in the friendly confines of Beasley Coliseum in Pullman by a final score of 75-65.

Make no mistake about the current status of the Utes. They are a very young ball club and have been on the wrong side of the score in every conference game this season. That said, Utah is a team that is loaded with talent in their first and second year players.

The highlight of the evening for Coach Ken Bone had to be the balanced offense delivered for the first time in a meaningful game. All five starters for the Cougs reached double figures.

"“It’s nice to see that everybody got involved,” said Coach Bone during his post-game comments. He continued, “…the way they guarded Brock (Motum)…it’s a chore to get him the ball (and) when he does get the ball he’s crowded so much.”"

As has been the case since conference play began, the strategy for WSU opponents is to limit touches by Brock Motum and get physical when denying him the ball. Wednesday night the Cougars exploited that strategy leading to their first Pac-12 win.

Washington State was on fire from behind the arc, shooting a torrid 11-20. The most important 3-point shot was knocked down by Motum to squash a run by Utah.

"“I think we were up 47-31 and (Utah) ran off 10 quick points. Then sure enough Brock steps back at the top of the key and hits a big three” praised Bone."

When you’re the Pac-12 top scorer last season and a senior putting up significant numbers again this year, Washington State needs Motum’s ability to overcome double-teams and deliver at critical junctures of the game. His effectiveness and efficiency to make shots from anywhere on the floor makes it hard to stop determined effort.

For a team desperate for offense from a source other than Motum, Cougar fans must appreciate this Cougar team performance.

Senior Mike Ladd continued to impress in conference play leading all scorers with 22 while going 7-12 from the field and a sizzling 5-8 from downtown. He grabbed 6 rebounds as well. Royce Woolridge and Motum each tallied 14 while DJ Shelton and DaVonté Lacy both had 10 points for the night.

About the only surprise Wednesday night was the final score. WSU should have won, but both teams have done a good job shutting down opponents by a combination of aggressive defense and deliberate play. History would have suggested a combined total of 120 points rather than 140. Neither club was impressive in their half-court play, but both looked good when pushing the ball up court for transition opportunities.

Next up for the Cougs will be Colorado this coming Saturday night at 7pm in Pullman.



Washington State Notes:

· Mike Ladd tied his career high and set a personal WSU best with 22 points…his career high was set while at Fresno State, Feb. 14, 2009 against New Mexico State. Ladd tied his career high with 5 3-pointers made…it’s also his personal WSU high, . The young man from Seattle scored in double figures for the fifth-straight game and reached the 20-point plateau for the first time as a Cougar.

· Royce Woolridge finished with 14 points and has scored in double figures three-straight games…he tied his second-highest career point total.

· DaVonté Lacy scored 8 of his 10 points in the first half to finish in double figures for the first time since scoring 10 against Washington, Jan. 5.

· D.J. Shelton scored 7 of his 10 points in the first half, finishing 3-for-4 from the field and 1-for-1 from 3-point range in the game…he reached double figures for just the second time this season and the first since scoring 14 against Idaho, Nov. 28.

· The Cougars set a season high with 11 3-pointers made…the previous high was 10.