PULLMAN – It was cold outside of Beasley Coliseum on Tuesday night, though nothing like it was inside for visiting Sacramento State.
Frigid might be a better word, at least in describing the first 10 minutes of Washington State’s 84-36 non-conference rout before an announced crowd of 5,099, thinned at least in half by tough-to-navigate road conditions.
Actually it wasn’t possible for the 2-4 Hornets to be any colder.
They missed their first 12 attempts, turned the ball over seven times, allowed WSU to hit 11 of its first 15 shots, and trailed 27-0.
“We got good shots early, we just missed them,” Sacramento State coach Brian Katz said. “I think the frustration of not being able to score transferred over to the defense. They got too many easy shots.”
“Then it snowballed.”
Appropriate, considering the weather outside … and the Hornets’ shooting.
“I was really pleased we came out and I thought our focus was good on almost every possession,” said WSU coach Ken Bone.
He proceeded to tick off a litany of reasons why it may not have been, starting with the odd Tuesday night schedule, finals coming up soon, the sparse crowd and fifth-ranked Kansas State looming on Friday.
None of it mattered.
WSU, at 5-0, the only undefeated Pac-10 school, led by 30 at the half, by 36 on Marcus Capers’ dunk 3 minutes later, and 40 before another 5 minutes had run off the clock.
All 11 Cougars who suited played and 10 scored, including 16 from Klay Thompson and 11 each for Faisal Aden and Brock Motum. The Cougars also passed the ball, with 20 assists on 33 made-baskets, and rebounded, winning that battle 42-31.
But it was the eight points from Mead High graduate Ben Loewen and seven more from freshman Will DiIorio – including a baseline two-hand slam – that energized the student section.
The two walk-ons didn’t score their points late either.
Loewen, a redshirt junior, came off the bench at the 11:37 mark of the first half when Capers picked up his second foul. He played 3 minutes, sat for less than 20 seconds, then replaced Dre Winston. Less than 2 minutes later he nailed a 3-pointer.
“Ever since Reggie (Moore) went down, coach has been telling me to stay ready, you never know when you’re going to get your opportunity,” Loewen said. “Tonight he gave me that opportunity pretty early.”
It might be the last for a while.
Moore, the sophomore point guard who has yet to play after fracturing his scaphoid bone in his left wrist, was out of his cast and will see this week if he can play in a splint.
“He’s just going to take it day-by-day, see how that splint feels and see if he can go,” Bone said. “But Friday, that’s pretty early to throw him out there. … You don’t want to put him out there until you feel like he’s going to have some success and he hasn’t done anything for a number of weeks.”
And 6-foot-8 center DeAngelo Casto’s sprained foot was out of a boot, leading Bone to say he assumes Casto, who has missed two games, will play in the Cougars’ Apple Cup-eve rematch with the Wildcats, the Big 12 power who pounded them 86-69 in Manhattan last year.
It’s a game WSU’s players are looking forward to.
“We haven’t played a team with this much talent and aggressiveness yet this year,” said Thompson, one of three Cougars with five or more assists against Sac State. “We’ll actually have to compete and work to get shots, instead of going one-on-one all the time.”