PULLMAN – Washington State knew it would have to rely on multiple contributors to beat Pittsburgh on Monday.
Charlie Enquist could feel it. Literally.
“I was really tired coming down the stretch,” said Enquist, a senior center who matched his season high by playing 27 minutes in WSU’s 67-66 win. “And Coach was calling a few timeouts at the end to give me a breather.”
There’s no rest for the weary. Or for the winners. Enquist and the rest of the Cougars spent Tuesday morning on a flight to Pittsburgh, where they’ll face the Panthers in the second game of the College Basketball Invitational’s best-of-3 championship series.
WSU (19-16), which clinched its sixth consecutive winning season, can take home the CBI championship by beating Pitt this afternoon at 4 p.m. Pitt (20-17) must win to force a decisive third game, which would be played in Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. Friday.
Cougars coach Ken Bone said after Monday’s win that leading scorer Brock Motum again has only a “slim chance” of playing in today’s game. Motum sprained his right ankle early in last week’s semifinal win over Oregon State, and watched from the sideline as the rest of his teammates held on to beat Pittsburgh on Monday.
D.J. Shelton blocked a layup attempt in the final seconds. Enquist started in Motum’s place and chipped in eight points. Abe Lodwick led with 16 points. Reggie Moore added 14. DaVonte Lacy scored 10.
The Panthers are notoriously tough at home, but hold a modest 13-7 record there this season.
The Cougars might be in trouble if they don’t guard better in the first half. Pitt made 7 of its 13 3-point attempts before halftime on Monday, buoyed by Tray Woodall’s 3-of-4 performance. He finished 4 of 6 and with 16 points.
“We didn’t expect him to shoot that way in the first half,” senior guard Marcus Capers said.
But after WSU shot 51.2 percent from the field without its star player, it was Pittsburgh vowing to be better in Game 2.
“We had good stretches,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “But ultimately, our defense is what we need to improve on.”
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