The Washington State Cougars made it look easy against Santa Clara Sunday afternoon, shredding through the Broncos with tremendous ball movement and completely denying the outside shot on defense. The tone was set early, as the Cougs raced out to a 13-3 lead and never looked back. It was easily WSU's best performance of the season as they went towards the basket early and often on their way to 143.1 offensive efficiency (meaning they scored 1.43 points per possession....ONE is average).
The big men were the beneficiaries of a lot of easy baskets thanks to some excellent work in passing and driving by the guards. Their stat lines show it. Brock Motum led the way with a career-high 27 points on 9-13 shooting. Charlie Enquist had another excellent game, not missing a single shot on his way to his second double-double in three games. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. The team finished with 19 assists on 31 field goals and a 73.9 eFG%. They also were very successful at the line, posting a 69.5 free throw rate and knocking down 78.1% of their attempts. There was a clear plan to get the ball inside and it worked out perfectly.
Reggie Moore quietly put together his best performance of the year, scoring 16 points on 6-8 shooting, handing out five assists, and turning the ball over just twice. The Cougars were able to avoid shooting themselves in the foot for the most part, only giving it away on 18.5% of their possessions. Far below their season number of 23.4%.
On defense, the Cougs held Santa Clara to just 0.85 points per possession. The Broncos are typically a team that shoots a lot of threes, as coming into the game nearly half of their field goal attempts came from beyond the arc. The Cougar bigs consistently over-played the hedge on ball screens, forcing SC to take the ball inside. They ended up only taking 15 threes on 50 field goal attempts and were clearly uncomfortable without that aspect of their game. Kudos to the game plan by Ken Bone and the coaching staff.
This was another very encouraging home result for WSU. Their fourth-straight win and a nice recovery from the 76 Classic debacle. The wins over Eastern and Santa Clara were impressive, and the Idaho result feels a lot better after what the Vandals did to Oregon State. The Cougs probably won't play a better game than this the rest of the season, but that is okay. They won't need to match this level to be successful in an increasingly weak Pac-12 conference.