PULLMAN – According to the score, the 10th-ranked WSU men’s basketball team’s exhibition win over Lewis-Clark State was the expected rout.
But the Cougars’ sporadic sloppy ball handling gave the visiting Warriors a few chances to strut their stuff, plowing several alley-oop slammers that stunned the Beasley Coliseum crowd. In the end, WSU’s scoring efficiency on defense led to an 80-42 romp of the NAIA Warriors. Coach Tony Bennett said his team needs to work on its offense and solidify its defense before Friday’s regular-season opener against Eastern Washington.
“We were a little, I thought, loose with the ball,” Bennett said.
Starting guard Taylor Rochestie threw away a pass intended for Kyle Weaver six minutes into the game. Near the end, starting forward Robbie Cowgill lost the ball while dribbling in the key. In all, the Cougars tallied 18 turnovers.
They were shaky at some points and strong at others. With four minutes left in the first half, Weaver wowed the fans with a backward pass in the key to center Caleb Forrest, who dunked for a 34-20 lead. Another slick play came in the second half when Jeremy Cross stole the ball at mid-court and shot it to freshman Abe Lodwick, who passed backward to Nikola Koprivica for a dunk.
Reserve forward Daven Harmeling led all scorers with 17 points, including three 3-pointers in two minutes during the first half. But after the game, it was Harmeling who most felt the Cougars need considerable improvement.
“We got a long ways to come. A long, long ways,” he said. “This stuff always happens at the beginning of the year, but tonight it was too much.”
He echoed Bennett, saying careless ballhandling plagued the Cougars’ offense. But starting guard Weaver was more optimistic.
“It’s early and it’s a long season,” he said. For him, it was just good to get out on the court and feel his team out.
Weaver led WSU in rebounds with nine. The “bigger, faster, stronger” Cougars, as Warriors coach Tim Walker called them, walked away with 51 rebounds over Lewis-Clark State’s 24.
Bennett gave most his newcomers some game time, bringing in freshmen Lodwick, Charlie Enquist and Stephen Sauls. Sauls, a 6-foot-3 guard from Missouri City, Texas, tallied five points in nine minutes of play.
Some of last year’s usual suspects struggled to score. Senior guard Derrick Low tallied five points, scoring the Cougars’ first three with a bucket from beyond the arc. Cowgill had two points while racking up four personal fouls.
Forrest, whose shooting suffered last season, scored 13 points off the bench. Starting Center Aron Baynes tallied 10. Koprivica, back from a knee injury that took him out of most of last year’s dream season, scored six.
“We have some stuff to work on,” Bennett said. “But it was good to see Daven (Harmeling) and Caleb (Forrest) help us out with their shooting.”
The Cougars now look to Friday for their opener against Eastern Washington in Pullman. With three hard days of practice before then, and a whole season ahead of WSU, it’s “too early to be concerned yet” about the Cougars’ play, Bennett said.
WSU 80, LCSC 42
Lewis-Clark State—Daly 1-2 0-0 2, Gordy 5-9 3-5 13, Gordon 3-4 2-3 8, M.Watson 2-11 2-4 6, D.Watson 4-8 0-0 10, Stedman 0-0 0-0 0, Duckworth 1-5 0-0 2, Comer 1-2 0-0 3, Papendieck 0-1 0-0 0, Fraser 1-3 0-0 2, Riley 0-7 0-0 0, Packwood 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 16-55 7-12 42.
Washington State—Cowgill 1-7 0-0 2, Baynes 3-5 4-4 10, Low 2-8 0-0 5, Rochestie 1-1 0-0 2, Weaver 3-4 2-2 8, Sauls 2-3 0-0 5, Koprivica 2-5 1-2 6, Lodwick 1-4 3-3 5, Abercrombie 1-3 0-0 2, Cross 0-1 2-2 2, Harmeling 7-8 0-1 17, Enquist 0-1 0-0 0, Henry 1-1 1-2 3, Forrest 6-9 0-0 13. Totals 30-60 13-16 80.
Halftime—Washington State 39, Lewis-Clark State 21. 3-point goals—Lewis-Clark State 3-16 (D.Watson 2-3, Comer 1-1, Gordon 0-1, Riley 0-1, Fraser 0-2, Duckworth 0-3, M.Watson 0-5), Washington State 7-19 (Harmeling 3-4, Sauls 1-1, Forrest 1-1, Koprivica 1-4, Low 1-6, Weaver 0-1, Lodwick 0-2). Fouled out—None. Rebounds—Lewis-Clark State 24 (Daly, M.Watson 4), Washington State 51 (Weaver 9). Assists—Lewis-Clark State 7 (Daly, M.Watson 2), Washington State 22 (Weaver 6). Total fouls—Lewis-Clark State 15, Washington State 15. A—NA.
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