PULLMAN – Washington State’s 93-56 victory over Central Washington was a sloppy, foul-filled affair that was never much of a contest. In short, it was an exhibition game. The Cougars worked out their kinks in front of fewer than a thousand fans and locked down their lower-division foe on defense.
Bigger, faster, and more talented, the Cougars were aggressive on offense and defense, forcing the Wildcats into their eighth team foul before three minutes had ticked off the clock. The teams combined for 43 fouls in the game as the officials enforced the NCAA’s new, stricter rules on defense hand-checking.
“It’s a disadvantage for the defense, but it’s an advantage for the offense if you know how to attack, be strong with the ball and make plays,” junior DaVonte Lacy said. “It’s a different way but that’s the way it’s going to have to be.”
The Cougars pulled away early with a 14-0 run that included 3-pointers from Dexter Kernich-Drew, D.J. Shelton, and a pair from Lacy.
Shelton led the Cougars with 17 points and Kernich-Drew added 16. Junior Longrus had a double-double for the Cougars, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Cougars won the rebounding battle 53-22.
“I thought our guys did a nice job on the glass, especially on the offensive glass,” coach Ken Bone said.
WSU continued to steadily distance itself from CWU, taking a 45-25 lead into the half. The Wildcats shot just 26.9 percent on 26 shots as the Cougars smothered shooters on defense.
“This was their first time out, I don’t think they’d had any scrimmages or anything,” Bone cautioned. “To travel here and play tonight on the road, they probably didn’t play tonight as well as they’re capable of, but they’ll have a good Division II team. That’s for sure.”
Mark McLaughlin, a onetime WSU recruit, led the Wildcats with 15 points.
With the Cougars using their superior athleticism to attack the basket, the home team was able to shoot 48.4 percent from the field while holding the visitors to just 34 percent. Royce Woolridge had a team-leading six assists.
With their final tune-up in the books, the Cougars will open their season at home Friday against Cal-State Bakersfield.