It appears as if Washington State will have to find a way win without Brock Motum once more.
The Cougars’ leading scorer is again unlikely to play when his team faces Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. Friday (HDNet) in the deciding game of the College Basketball Invitational championship series.
The winner takes home the CBI championship trophy. But that task was made harder for WSU when Motum sprained his ankle against Oregon State in the semifinals.
“It doesn’t look very promising,” said coach Ken Bone, adding that Motum still wasn’t able to practice on Thursday. “I don’t foresee him playing tomorrow.”
Even though Motum leads WSU (19-17) with 18 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, his injury hasn’t necessarily been a death knell. The Cougars made more than half of their field-goal attempts in a Game 1 win over Pitt on Monday, using a balanced, patient offensive attack to compensate for Motum’s absence.
The Panthers (21-17) did a much better job defending WSU’s perimeter shooters in a 57-53 win in Game 2 on Wednesday, Bone said, while also taking away any scoring opportunities from the Cougars’ big men.
So WSU’s second-half comeback was sparked by point guard Reggie Moore, who scored 16 of his 18 points after halftime, driving into the key at will to either score or draw a foul.
With Motum out and the rest of WSU’s scoring options bottled up, Moore did what he had to. The way Pitt defended WSU’s ball-screens on Wednesday, he might be their best option again tonight, too.
“That’s kind of what I figured – we’re going to have to try to spread them out and drive it, and the best guy to do it would be Reggie,” Bone said. “Let’s try to spread it out and pick and choose when he can drive.”
“That’s what the team needs right now,” Moore said.
Pitt’s leading scorer, Ashton Gibbs, also sat out Wednesday’s game with a sprained ankle.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.