Cougar friends and family, we are gathered here to mourn the loss of a close friend.
Together, we were there for the birth in 2003. Saw it through some hard times and growing pains. Suffered through the blowout losses, and triumphed after the improbable upsets. And, in the end, our patience was rewarded, as we were taken to new heights and places we hadn't been in ages. It was a glorious era, filled with defense, halfcourt offense and games with final scores in the fifties.
But, now, it is all over.
Bennett ball was only six years old.
Here we sit tonight, after a game where the Cougars shot 46.9% - 30% from three-point range - and scored ninety-four points.
So while we remember the good times we had in the past, the time has come to move on.
Something tells me we aren't going to miss the five minute scoring droughts anyway.
Now let's talk about the game:
Starting Lineup: Yet again Bone went with Moore, Capers, Thompson, Lodwick and Casto. Normally I'd say that Abe Lodwick starting at the 4 is a recipe for trouble, but tonight he played his position well, even if the shots still aren't falling: 4 points, 6 offensive boards, 9 total rebounds and 2 assists. He did only play 16 minutes, sharing time with Koprivica, Motum and Enquist. All played well against the undersized Delta Devils, with the Cougars earning a substantial 46 to 20 rebounding advantage.
Outside of Lodwick, the other starters lived up to their hype, scoring in double figures and keeping the Cougar offense afloat throughout the night. Klay Thompson led all scorers with 20, Casto had 18, and 10 points each were scored by Capers and Moore. Reggie added six assists and a couple boards.
Quick Start: WSU jumped out to a 9-0 lead and MVSU never seriously threatened again. Defense was an issue for the Cougars, surrendering 66 points and a more problematic 12 three-pointers. Still, the Cougs were in control all evening and despite MVSU coming within nine again late in the second half, the Cougars ramped up the tempo and took a 17 point lead into halftime.
Positives: The Cougars made nearly twice as many free throws (28) as MVSU attempted (15). The Cougs made 80 percent of their 35 attempts at the charity stripe. WSU also forced 21 turnovers and had the aforementioned dominating performance on the boards. The Cougars had 11 players score on the evening, four in double figures. (EDIT: Sweet fancy Moses look at that offensive rebounding dominance - who are we, U-dub? Oh yeah, and that free throw rate is phenomenal - everything I wanted to see last year, especially from Klay)
Negatives: Wazzu gave up 17 turnovers of their own, and occasionally struggled to score in the halfcourt. They shot poorly from behind the arc, making only six of 20 attempts. There were also some defensive lapses, with Cougars failing to close out on D'Angelo Jackson, who hit three of five from downtown. Tashan Newsome, MVSU's leading scorer, connected on five of ten shot attempts. The reserves for WSU struggled in the final minutes, however John Allen and Brock Motum connected on three-point shot attempts.
Redshirts burnt: Ken Bone played both Steven Bjornstad and guard Anthony Brown in relief, meaning that neither true freshman is eligible for a redshirt unless medical circumstances call for it. It was a questionable call considering that both players stand to get very limited playing time.
Player of the Game: DeAngelo Casto. In only 20 minutes, Casto was dominant: 18 points on 6 of 9 shooting, 4 offensive rebounds, 4 defensive rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, only 1 turnover and all 3 of the team's blocks. One can only wonder how lopsided the game might have been had Casto played a few more minutes.
Unsung Hero: How about Nikola Koprivica? Off the bench the Cougar senior had nine points, four rebounds and two assists against no turnovers. He made half of his shots and helped the Cougars regain their energy in transition late in the first half.
It was over when... Speaking of which, it was Koprivica's entrance into the game that helped spark the Cougars 8-0 run near the end of the first half after the Delta Devils had come within nine. Down by 17, MVSU would never threaten the Cougar lead again.
Play of the Game: There are a few candidates, but I have to go with Casto's back-to-back blocks on the same MVSU possession in the second half. It looked like after the first block, the second Devil shot would go up uncontested. But Casto snuffed out the shot, leading to a fast break opportunity for the Cougs.
Stat of the Game: Sharing is caring, and the Cougars assisted on 20 out of 30 made shots.