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November 10, 2012
An impressive defensive effort by the Cougars forced the Eagles (0-1) into 36 attempts from behind the arc, and the Cougars marched as a team offensively - led by Brock Motum's 23 points and 10 rebounds.? The Cougars brought an aggressive defensive mentality that kept the Eagles outside of the key and pushed them deep in the perimeter, forcing tough shots all evening.
Rebounding and free throw shooting have often been contributing factors for this Cougar basketball teams' downfalls.
Whereas the free throw shooting did not improve - the Cougars shot 23 of 36 (63.8%) from the charity stripe - the swarming on the boards was a vast improvement.? In addition to Motum's impressive double-digit rebounding performance, D.J. Shelton added 12 boards, while Mike Ladd and surprising true freshman Junior Longrus each hauled in five.
Longrus, who was 2-of-2 from the field, performed very well in limited minutes, adding four points and a block to his rebounding numbers.? His surprising performance adds encouragement to the Cougars' depth in the frontcourt - an area of concern prior to the season.
Ladd is finally healthy and, playing without a cast on his right hand from a previous thumb injury, showed his true ability with 15 points and two assists in an efficient 29 minutes.? He played with aggression on both sides of the ball, grabbing rebounds and getting to the rack with relative ease.
The Cougars offensive game plan consisted of getting to the hole early and often, as only 14 of their shot attempts were beyond the perimeter. This boded well for the young backcourt of Royce Woolridge and DaVonte Lacy, who showcased their ability to get to the hoop.
Woolridge started at point guard and played well, logging seven points on 2-of-5 shooting in 29 minutes.? Although he recorded just two assists on the night, he was able to get a number of players involved and showed some true potential as the apparent heir to departed senior Reggie Moore.
The Cougars were able to overcome Justin Crosgile's valiant 28 points, and the Eagles shot only 32% from the field - a large contrast to the Cougars' 55% - and this due in large part to the defensive effort from WSU.
Playing an in-your-face man defense for the majority of the game, the Cougars frustrated the Eagles from the start.? They forced the Eagles into 14 turnovers, which translated into 20 points.
Their hustle was on full display tonight, as well.? WSU had seven steals - three from Will Dilorio alone - and added 12 second-chance points.
The Cougars are now 1-0 on the season, and host Utah Valley on November 14th in Pullman.