PULLMAN – Early in the first half, before this Sunday afternoon game became a snoozer, Charlie Enquist showed a physical side – and confidence – that hasn’t always been there during his Washington State career.
The 6-foot-10 senior – who came to Pullman five years ago weighing just over 190 pounds – got his hands on an offensive rebound in traffic and followed with a strong layup under the basket.
It was part of a stretch of eight straight points for the now 230-pound Enquist, and after he hit his putback, he gave the small Beasley Coliseum crowd of 2,711 a quick flex of his biceps.
“I feel the confidence is coming and that’s what I really need,” said Enquist after the Cougars’ 93-55 trouncing of Santa Clara in nonconference men’s basketball action.
And the muscle display? “I don’t know, the flex – that came out of nowhere,” he said with a grin.
Enquist posted his second double-double in three games with 18 points and 10 rebounds and fellow big man Brock Motum had a career-high 27 points to help WSU cruise to its fourth straight victory. The short-handed Cougs (6-4) drained 67.4 percent of their shots and weren’t challenged against an opponent with several quality wins on its résumé.
Santa Clara beat Villanova and New Mexico in the same 76 Classic in which WSU went 0-3. But the Broncos, who came in ranked fourth in the nation in 3-point makes (10.1 per game), made just 3 of 13.
“That was a high priority for us to try to defend their 3s and I thought our guys did a nice job,” said WSU coach Ken Bone, who praised the aggressive defense of guards Marcus Capers and Dexter Kernich-Drew.
“For the people here today who hadn’t seen Santa Clara, they didn’t see the real Santa Clara team,” Bone said. “They’re good.”
SCU, after closing within 15-12 with 13:30 left in the first half, looked helpless as the Cougs unleashed a 14-3 run over the next four minutes. The scoring spree was initiated by Enquist and two players more accustomed to big games – Motum and point guard Reggie Moore.
The trio combined for 33 of the team’s first 40 points, and Moore finished with 16 points and five assists. His effort helped offset the continued absence of leading scorer Faisal Aden (concussion), as well as Abe Lodwick (foot) and Mike Ladd (thumb).
“I’m just staying aggressive,” Moore said. “Just trying to be a complete point guard, scoring and dishing out.”
Enquist and Motum benefited from Moore’s assertiveness, particularly early. Enquist was 7 of 7 from the floor and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. His roommate, Motum, went 9 of 13 from the floor and added four assists.
“The guards were giving us the ball,” Motum said. “They penetrate pass the first line of the defense and Charlie and I have our hands ready. We try to finish.”
Bone said Aiden, recovering from his second concussion of the season, should be cleared to play later this week in advance of Saturday’s home game with Western Oregon. … Bone said he was slightly surprised by another small crowd before joking, “Maybe we’re better with little crowds.”