The Washington State Cougars took down the Idaho Vandals, 64-55, behind a strong performance from Brock Motum and clutch baskets from D.J. Shelton on Wednesday night. Idaho made the game close late with strong outside shooting and some easy inside buckets, but the Cougs came up with enough plays to escape.
WSU fell behind 4-0 early, but recovered and eventually built the lead to 13 in the first half. It was nine at halftime, and the Cougs looked in control.
Idaho fought back in the second, and pulled within 53-51 with just over three minutes left. That was when Shelton busted out the three-monacle up against the shot clock to push the WSU lead back to five. Dexter Kernich-Drew would drive left to the basket, draw a foul, and knock down two free throws on the next possession.
Shelton would then put the game away with with two-straight impressive drives to the basket. One came on a nice double-clutch layup, the other a pretty spin and floater. Shelton has the tools to be an impressive scorer for WSU, but turnovers and consistency have hurt him. Tonight, he saved WSU with seven huge points down the stretch and finished with an efficient 14 on 6-8 shooting and no turnovers.
How good was Shelton? Let Twitter tell you:
Motum carried the Cougar offense for the first ten minutes of the second half, keeping the Vandals at bay with his usual mix of drives to the basket and impressive post moves. The Aussie finished with 26 points on 11 of 20 shooting and nine rebounds.
Kernich-Drew has emerged as the team's No. 2 scorer, getting to double-figures for the third-straight game. Tonight, he did most of his work inside the paint on the way to 15 points. He had four impressive drives to the basket, three of which ended with layups.
It was all about limiting turnovers for the Cougs tonight on offense. Motum, Shelton, and DKD were the only three that could put the ball in the basket, but the others at least kept from giving the ball away. WSU finished with just four turnovers on 59 possessions. And yes, just 59 possessions. The game was played at a snail's pace.
The Cougars move to 4-3 on the year, while the Vandals drop to 1-4. Washington State continues its homestand against Portland on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. PT.