PULLMAN – Until DaVonte Lacy returns from injury, coach Ken Bone says it’ll be hard for him to determine what his Washington State basketball team is really all about.
Lacy tweaked his left knee last week against Kansas, and didn’t play in WSU’s 66-38 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday at Beasley Coliseum.
Not that the Cougars particularly needed the sophomore guard to shake off an ugly start and squeak past the Golden Lions, members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference who shot 30 percent from the field and converted just 6 of 26 shots in the first half.
Bone doesn’t know when Lacy will return, though he was told a few days ago that he’s expected to miss two to three weeks. A meeting between Lacy and a team doctor was scheduled for Saturday night, but Bone said he didn’t know the results yet.
“I’m anxious to get DaVonte back in the picture,” Bone said. “Whether he misses two or three or five more games, whatever it is, I’m anxious to get him back, because really, who we want to be come league (play), we need him. He’s part of the equation. Probably about 30-minutes-per-night part of the equation.
“So between now and then, it’s piece it together and try to win games.”
No amount of piecing would have been insufficient against UAPB (1-4), which didn’t score during a nearly 9-minute stretch spanning the end of the first half and the beginning of the second.
In other words: This was the kind of game the Cougars needed after three consecutive road losses, two of which they felt they should have won.
“We could have easily been 5-1 by now,” said senior forward Brock Motum, who tied Royce Woolridge with a game-high 14 points. “But the tables didn’t turn our way, so we just knew tonight we wanted to come in here and get better.”
It didn’t look as if they’d gotten much better in the first half. The Cougars trailed 16-14 after UAPB’s Lazabian Jackson scored a basket at the 3:55 mark, at which point WSU had already committed eight turnovers.
But the Cougars woke up, and the Golden Lions stopped scoring. WSU (3-3) led 32-16 by the time UAPB put the ball in the basket again – Motum scored seven points during an 18-0 run – and the Cougars were well on their way to another blowout of an overmatched team.
WSU wound up shooting 25 3-pointers, a number Bone said is made more acceptable by the fact that UAPB played zone the whole game.
The Cougars weren’t aggressive against it early, but changed their approach after Bone told them to at halftime.
Ball movement wasn’t a problem – WSU assisted on 20 of its 23 made field goals, with forwards Motum, D.J. Shelton and Brett Boese handing out four apiece.
“We were playing a little passive,” Woolridge said. “At halftime, Coach told us he wanted to go out more aggressive and if we could get it into the low post to Brock or D.J., they can make a play on the opposite end because there’s people wide open.”
Woolridge was one of them. He made 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
“When Brock and them got the ball in the post, the weak side was open,” Woolridge said. “And I just happened to be there a couple times and just knocked down some shots.”
All of which helped the Cougars piece this one together pretty easily.
WSU 66, Ark.-Pine Bluff 38
Percentages: FG .300, FT .444. 3-Point Goals: 4-18, .222 (Jones 1-1, Anderson 1-4, Hammond 1-5, Jackson 1-6, Kennedy 0-1, Haynes 0-1). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 1 (Haynes). Turnovers: 12 (Hammond 4, Haynes 3, Jackson 2, Boyd 2, Floyd). Steals: 7 (Jackson 3, Hammond 3, Floyd). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .479, FT 1.000. 3- Point Goals: 8-25, .320 (Woolridge 4-7, Kernich-Drew 2-9, Ladd 1-2, Motum 1-4, Shelton 0-1, Hayenga 0-1, Boese 0-1). Team Rebounds: 7. Blocked Shots: 3 (Motum 2, Shelton). Turnovers: 13 (Ladd 4, Shelton 3, DiIorio, Boese, Leavitt, Longrus, Kernich-Drew, Woolridge). Steals: 5 (Ladd, Shelton, Leavitt, Ballard, Woolridge). Technical Fouls: None.
Halftime—WSU 23-16. A—4,571.