Pac-12 basketball teams play 18 league games, but Washington State coach Ken Bone said he feared an 0-2 start in conference play might prove...
SPOKANE — Pac-12 basketball teams play 18 league games, but Washington State coach Ken Bone said he feared an 0-2 start in conference play might prove fatal to the Cougars.
Brock Motum helped calm Bone’s fears by recording team highs of 26 points and eight rebounds in an 81-76 win over Oregon State on Saturday at Spokane Arena.
“If we come out and we’re flat or we just don’t play well, then maybe we aren’t that good,” Bone said. “We kind of put it on our shoulders and put the onus on us as a team and as a staff: ‘Can we get the job done?’ The guys did a nice job.”
DaVonte Lacy scored 18 points for the Cougars (9-5, 1-1 Pac-12), who have won seven of their past eight games.
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Jared Cunningham led Oregon State (10-4, 0-2) with 21 points. Backcourt partner Ahmad Starks scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half. Joe Burton added 14 points and seven rebounds.
Bone said Saturday’s game represented “a real test of our character” after the Cougars opened Pac-12 play with a dismal performance Thursday in a 92-75 loss to Oregon.
“They came out and smacked us,” said WSU point guard Reggie Moore.
Moore was crucial to Saturday’s win. He handled Oregon State’s pressure defense expertly, making just one turnover in 35 minutes. He also scored eight points and handed out a season-high nine assists.
Motum, a 6-foot-10 junior from Australia, worked well inside and from the perimeter. He was 10 of 15 from the field, including 3 of 5 on three-pointers, and finished one short of his career high of 27 points. Motum scored WSU’s first nine points.
“He’s a competitor,” Bone said. “He understands what was at stake.”
Washington State led almost all the way, but the Cougars had to deliver at the free-throw line in the final two minutes to clinch the game.
Oregon State trailed only 77-74 after Starks hit his fifth three-pointer with 51 seconds to go.