The Cougs improved to 8-4 as they led from wire to wire behind Bonton, who did something he hasn’t done much this year: Score with efficiency. WSU’s second-leading scorer posted 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including 2-of-4 from three-point range. He also added 12 rebounds, with seven of those coming on the offensive end, and six assists.
The Cardinals (3-9) are one of the worst teams in Division I, and it showed, particularly on the defensive end as the Cougars had one of their best shooting nights of the season — WSU hit 7-of-18 from beyond the arc and their effective field goal percentage of 54.3 was second best this season. Jaz Kunc had three of those on his way to 13 points and eight rebounds.
WSU used a 9-0 run to take an early 11-2 lead, but the Cardinals whittled it down to two points after Drew Lutz canned all three free throws after he was fouled in the act of shooting behind the arc with just over 10 minutes to go in the first half.
That’s when Bonton — who was just 1-of-10 last game and has struggled with his shot all season — took over. He scored nine of WSU’s next 14 points, including a rhythm jumper from beyond the arc, and the Cougs took the lead back up to 11. Following a pair of free throws by Keaston Willis, WSU went on another run, this one 14-4 with another five points from Bonton, and the Cougars took a 19-point lead into the locker room.
Incarnate Word would get no closer than 15 points in the second half, and the final margin of 28 was the biggest lead of the night for WSU.
About the only blemish on the Cougs all night was 18 turnovers — the second consecutive sloppy game for a team that had been the best in the country at taking care of the ball. Bonton had five of those.
CJ Elleby had 13 points and seven rebounds and Jeff Pollard had 13 points and six rebounds.
The Cougars are off for Christmas, returning to the court next Sunday in Pullman for a tune-up against Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions (really) before opening Pac-12 play the following Thursday against the USC Trojans.