PULLMAN – Despite all the buzz on the Washington State campus over the hiring of football coach Mike Leach, not a lot of that transferred to Beasley Coliseum.
But it was just what Cougars men’s basketball coach Ken Bone expected.
“It’s nice to be home,” he said. “Obviously, we wish for a little better crowd, but a Wednesday night and after losing three in a row we can’t expect a whole lot more.”
It didn’t help that the opponent was winless Grambling State, which didn’t put up much of a fight with just seven players, allowing the Cougars to roll to a mostly unsatisfying 69-37 win before 2,930 fans.
“It was a game we wanted to do a better job executing on both ends of the court,” Bone said. “Because of the limited bodies they had because of injuries and ineligibility, they stayed in the matchup (zone) the whole game. It did not do us a lot of good working on our man-to-man offense.”
That’s not to say nothing good came out of the game.
“We made free throws, we shared the ball, nobody got hurt, we played a lot of guys,” Bone said. “We would have liked to work on our man offense more.”
The Cougars (3-4) had 18 assists on 24 baskets, with Pac-12 leader Reggie Moore getting seven. They also dominated the boards 45-32. Three players had a half-dozen. And they held the Tigers (0-6) to 25 percent shooting, including 4 of 25 on 3 pointers.
Brock Motum had his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, six on the offensive end. DaVonte Lacy came off the bench for 10 points and six rebounds and 6-foot-8 Patrick Simon came off the bench to get eight points in 9 minutes.
Motum did his damage in just 23 minutes.
“(The rebounds) were available and I got them,” he said. “We rebounded well as a team, that was a goal.”
The game was decided when the Cougars closed the first half with a 13-3 run for a 34-17 lead. Motum had his seven points in the last 4 minutes while Faisal Aden finished with eight of his 12, all in the first four minutes.
It took a few minutes for the Cougars to regain their momentum in the second half, but the Tigers didn’t have the horses to keep up.
“Energy was up and down from our standpoint,” Lacy said. “At the end of the day it was a win.”
Toward the end of the half, Simon hit a pair of 3s.
“It was kind of hard for me to get going early but I hit a couple of shots late,” he said. “My teammates found me. It definitely gave me a confidence boost knowing the way my teammates looked for me.”
Grambling got 12 points from 7-foot junior P.J. Roberson, who also had a game-high eight rebounds despite playing just 7 minutes in the first half. Xavier Rogers came off the bench for 10 points but hit just 3 of 15 shots, including 2 of 11 on 3s, in 36 minutes. Rondale Livas, the 5-10 sophomore point guard, played all 40 minutes.
WSU is home again on Saturday against Eastern Washington, but Mike Ladd will miss another game with a sprained thumb.