James Snook-US PRESSWIRE
Washington State got off to a slow start, especially offensively, but turned it on in the last 23 minutes to bury the Golden Lions.
The Washington State Cougars defeated the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions, 66-38, at Friel Court on Saturday night. The Golden Lions stifled WSU with a zone defense early on, but the Cougars figured things out eventually and it was all WSU from that point.
UAPB led the game 16-14 with 3:50 to play in the first half. WSU was looking awful on offense. The Cougs were making a number of errant passes, and had turned the ball over seven times. Brock Motum wasn't getting many touches, and WSU was on a long scoring drought.
Ken Bone called timeout at that point, and things changed after that. WSU came right out and got Motum several touches before the end of the half. He scored or drew attention, and the Cougars closed with a 9-0 run to take a 23-16 halftime lead. They would continue the scoring run to 32-16 before UAPB finally put the ball in the basket again.
WSU would continue to build their lead through the rest of the game, and come away with a comfortable win.
Some notes, in bullet point form:
- Mike Ladd continues to struggle as a creator. He is not a good passer, and turns the ball over frequently while in the point guard role. He is much better as an off-guard, as he moves well without the basketball. Unfortunately, WSU's guard depth, which took a hit it could not afford when DaVonte Lacy was injured, warrants that Ladd must handle the ball.
- The Cougs look like they have a whole bunch of streaky-type shooters. Ladd, Dexter Kernich-Drew, and Royce Woolridge all seem to hit their threes in bunches. It's not that surprising, considering all three have unorthodox strokes that put odd spin on the ball. Woolridge was the hot hand against UAPB, hitting 4 of 7 threes on his way to 14 points.
- Motum made a few nifty plays. The first came on WSU's third possession, when he caught the ball in the post, then flipped a no-look pass to a cutting D.J. Shelton for the jam. The second came when he caught the ball about ten feet from the basket, lost control as he went up, then grabbed the ball in midair and scored all in one motion. The final came on another pass, when he bounced it to a cutting Ladd across the lane for a thunderous dunk. Brock finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, and no turnovers.
- WSU came out in man defensively, after getting shredded with a zone in Kansas City. It may not have mattered against UAPB, but it is good to see the Cougs working on it and having some success. WSU gave up just 0.65 points per possession on Saturday night, their fifth game under one point per possession (average) on the year.
- Hopefully the Cougs can start getting to the line more. They get ice cold and turn the ball over in bunches, so some freebies will be necessary to avoid those long stretches without scoring.
WSU students will have plenty of games to see in the coming weeks, as the Cougars play five more games in Pullman before the winter break. Next up is Idaho on Wednesday.