PULLMAN – Washington State men’s basketball coach Ken Bone got what he wanted out of Friday night.
An exhibition victory over Lewis-Clark State. Check that off with an 89-49 final before 3,682 at Friel Court.
Focused players right to the end. Check that off as the Cougars outscored their NAIA opponent 28-7 in an 11-minute stretch late in the second half. WSU held the Warriors to 5-of-25 shooting after halftime.
A chance to see how his returning players have matured. Check that off next to the names of Klay Thompson (21 points, seven rebounds, only two turnovers), DeAngelo Casto (18, four, one in 16 minutes), Reggie Moore (seven assists, three steals) and Brock Motum (11 points on 4-of-5 shooting).
A good first look at the newcomers. Check that off twice, with junior college transfer Faisal Aden coming off the bench to hit 9 of 13 shots – including his first four – en route to a game-high 22 points, and freshman Patrick Simon adding seven points and four rebounds.
And, finally, “nobody got hurt,” Bone said.
“I like the fact we stayed focused for an almost complete 40 minutes,” Bone added, putting an emphasis on the word stayed. “That was important to us.”
For the Cougars players, the biggest plus from the night was just getting to play someone else after three weeks of beating on each other at practice.
“We worked pretty hard in the offseason, so actually playing somebody else felt good,” Casto said.
Thompson, whose first collegiate tip dunk – his words – cleaning up Aden’s first miss gave WSU a 32-18 lead 12 minutes in, said the 46 points scored by reserves shows WSU is deeper this season.
Thompson feels that should help them turn around the five five-points-or-less Pac-10 Conference losses from last season.
“We’re a lot tougher this year,” said Thompson, 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. “We’re more balanced, so when we’re up 10 or 15, it’s going to be easier to keep that lead because we’ve got so many scoring threats. We’re a lot more athletic this year, so our defense is that much better.”
The Warriors, playing their second game in as many nights – they also face Idaho tonight – were led by guards Darin Stewart and David Johnson with 12 and 10 points, respectively.