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November 15, 2012

Cougs cruise, beat Utah Valley 72-49

PULLMAN -- Washington State took on Utah Valley on Wednesday night in a barren Beasley Coliseum but cruised to a 72-49 victory behind another smothering defensive performance in front of an announced crowd of 2,023.

Despite the apathetic attendance numbers, the Cougars (2-0) relentlessly wore down their counterpart, holding the Wolverines (1-2) in check throughout the game and relied on timely shooting to jump out to an early lead.

The Cougars took their first lead of the game on a Brock Motum layup at the 16:35 mark of the first half and they would never look back.  WSU, much like they did against Eastern Washington, crisply moved the ball in order to run through the flow of their offense, resulting in easy baskets and wide-open shots.

Motum, who picked up his second foul of the game with 13:54 to go, was forced to sit with the Cougars leading just 12-7.  Over the next eight minutes, the Cougars bench extended the lead to 31-17 with 5:21 left in the half.

For the game, the WSU bench outscored the Wolverines 23 to 16, led by Dexter Kernich-Drew's career-high 14 points off the pine.

Behind a flurry of fast breaks and clutch three point shots, the Cougars went on a 16-2 run over the final 4:16 of the half to head into the break with a 45-22 lead.

The second half was much of the same for Washington State, holding a 31-point lead with just under four minutes to go while playing mostly bench players down the stretch. 

The Cougars won by 23 points on just 59 possessions, a statistic that shows just how dominant this performance was.  The Wolverines were held to just 44% from the field and forced into 13 turnovers.

Led by Royce Woolridge and DaVonte Lacy, who each recorded a career-high six assists, WSU moved the ball around well and only had five turnovers on the night.

Motum (15), Lacy (11), and Mike Ladd (13) joined Kernich-Drew in double figures and D.J. Shelton continued to lead the team in rebounds with six.

The Cougars shot 51.8% (29-of-56) from the field and out-rebounded Utah Valley 27 to 23.

It was a masterful performance for a team that was expected to endure some bumps along the road after losing so many prominent starters.  Although, there have yet to be any ill effects experienced through the first two games as the Cougars have looked mighty sharp on both ends of the floor.

They should also be well rested, as no player has played over 30 minutes in either of the games played this season.

In their first road test of the season, the Cougars travel to Pepperdine at 7 p.m. on Friday before gearing up to take on Kansas in Kansas City next week.

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