The Washington State Cougars defeated the Portland Pilots, 72-60, at Friel Court on Saturday night behind 29 points and seven rebounds from Brock Motum. The win was the third-straight for WSU after a three-game losing streak.
WSU started out slowly, and trailed 7-5 early in the first half. They went on a tear at that point, eventually building the lead to 27-11. Portland would start hitting outside shots and the score closed to 33-23 by halftime.
The Pilots made a few runs in the second. At one point, they closed to 46-40. WSU would then go on an 11-0 run to effectively put the game away with about ten minutes left. Portland would never threaten after that.
Washington State shot well from three as a team, and that was due in large part to Motum and Royce Woolridge. The two combined to go 5 of 8 from downtown. Motum hitting jumpers is an encouraging sign. If he gets going from the outside, he'll be fun to watch again this season.
Woolridge finished with a career-high 20 points on 6 of 11 shooting. He was agressive all night, and hit 5 of 6 free throws.This is the first time that two Cougs have finished with 20 points or more on the year.
It's good to see Woolridge be aggressive, and not settle for the outside shot. He had a number of nice drives that left the Pilots with no other choice but to foul him. Whether or not he can do that against better competition? Well, he'll have a chance at that on Wednesday.
There wasn't really much else in terms of scoring outside of Woolridge and Motum. However, Mike Ladd dished out five assists without turning the ball over. He drew defenders and created for his teammates multiple times. That is something he will need to do on a regular basis for the WSU offense to be successful.
This game wasn't as close as the final score indicates. The Cougars were up by 22 when most of the regulars were pulled. That does show the complete lack of depth for Washington State, as the backups are frequently dominated by middling mid-major squads.
WSU now sits at 5-3 on the year, and has rebounded nicely from a disappointing road trip. They will face a huge test on Wednesday when the rival Gonzaga Bulldogs come to town. That game will be at 8 p.m. PT and be televised by ESPNU.