The Washington State Cougars soundly defeated the Northern Kentucky Norse 68-47 in their final non-conference home game.
WSU (4-4) needed a solid win to reestablish confidence after dropping their last two games and delivered in dominant fashion. The Cougars outrebounded NKU (5-5) 37-10, including 15 offensive rebounds, as the Cougars looked like the best team on the floor for the full 40 minutes.
While the Cougs started slow, it didn’t take long for them to heat up on both ends of the court. D.J. Rodman gave WSU the lead with a layup with 13:23 to go in the first half and the Cougs never let go of it. The flood gates began to open as Justin Powell drained back-to-back threes and added a short jumper on the side for a personal 8-2 run. Powell then passed the torch to Mouhamed Gueye, tacking on a quick four points of his own. Gueye kept the torch moving to T.J. Bamba who’s personal 6-0 run helped push the lead up to 15. While the Cougars were passing around the offensive torch on one end, their intensity on the defensive matched the heat of the blazing torch. The Cougar defense put the Norse on locks with a near eight minute field goal drought, zero three pointers and just 23 first half points as WSU led a commanding 39-23 lead into the break.
The second half echoed much of the first half. A slower start, followed by a barrage of WSU points and lockdown defense. Bamba led the closing knockout punch delivered by the Cougars, kicking off a 14-0 Cougar run and locking down the Norse to a near seven minute scoring drought to expand the Cougar lead to 28. Kyle Smith and the Cougars put the game into cruise control for the final eight minutes as the Cougars hit Smith’s goal of holding the opponent to under 48 and picking up a 21-point win.
While Bamba was again stellar on offense — scoring double-digits for the seventh straight game — his defense against one of the better scorers in the nation right now was just as incredible. Marques Warrick game into tonight’s contest scoring 21.6 points a game on 45% shooting from the floor. Tonight, Warrick scored just 10 on 3/9 shooting. Warrick’s first field goal came with just six minutes left in the game. Textbook definition of a lockdown defender.
The Cougars will kickoff a holiday road trip with their first stop in Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Clash against the UNLV Rebels at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.