Cougs roll to CBI win via selfless offense

KEN BONE HAS oft-mentioned how well his players get along. And it showed on the hardwood Tuesday night as Washington State players routinely broke down San Francisco's defense by finding open teammates to earn a 89-75 win in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational. It was only the fifth road win of the season for WSU, who advance to play Wyoming or North Dakota State on Monday.

Any postseason tournament not named the Big Dance causes concern for a coach.

"It's one of those games where you don't know if guys are going to show up or not," WSU coach Ken Bone said in a postgame radio interview. "I'm really proud of our kids."

WSU (16-16) never trailed and looked like it might blowout the Dons when junior guard Mike Ladd hit a 3-pointer with 13 minutes, 37 seconds left in the first half. That gave the Cougars a 24-12 lead.

But in a theme that has become familiar for WSU this season, the Cougars had seven turnovers in the final 10 minutes of the half as San Francisco closed its deficit to 35-34 at halftime -- although it should be mentioned USF heated up to end the half and hit their shots.

But that was as close as the Dons (20-14) would get. WSU took care of the basketball during the second half -- the Cougars finished with 11 turnovers -- and were efficient offensively. They also hit their free throws.

It started with junior post Brock Motum, who made 8 of 13 shots en route to a game-high 24 points. WSU shot a scorching 60.4 percent from the field against San Francisco.

Motum was not the only beneficiary of the Cougars' ability to find an open player. Seniors Marcus Capers (12 points) and Abe Lodwick (10) combined to shoot 8 of 12 from the floor.

The Cougars had 20 assists on their 29 field goals. Capers himself had eight assists.

"As long as we got the ball to the middle of the zone, we were going to be open," Capers said.

WSU, which lost late leads at home against Arizona and Washington with poor free-throw shooting, had no such issues against the Dons. Junior point guard Reggie Moore converted 12 of 13 from the stripe, most of them coming in the final minutes, as he finished with 18 points.

The Cougars connected on 25 of 28 free throws.

The most critical may have come when Moore connected on four free throws and twice extended WSU's lead to eight points with less than five minutes remaining.

"He hit some free throws at a time when they were starting to make a run," Bone said.

IN ADDITION TO the Cougars' four double-digit scorers, Bone praised several players' performances off the bench. He noted that Ladd not only made 4 of 5 shots -- he finished with nine points -- but also added seven rebounds.

"He had a really good game," Bone said. "He gives us a real presence on the defensive end."

Defense was also the reason he cited for getting senior center Charlie Enquist some minutes. Enquist, who finished with four points, threw down a dunk and made his only set of free throws despite not having been to the foul line in a game since Jan. 19 against Stanford. He also had a positive effect on the defensive end -- USF had driven the lane effectively but Enquist helped put a stop to that.

"It didn't surprise me," Bone said. "He doesn't get nervous. He just steps in there and plays."

The Dons tailed off considerably over the final 10 minutes and shot just 36.8 percent from the field. Their leading scorer, forward Angelo Caloiaro, finished with 15 points but was just 3 of 7 from the field.

"That was a big part of our game plan," Bone said. "We did a good job on him."

San Francisco was led by Michael Williams' 20 points, but he made just 5 of 15 field goals. Federal Way's Cole Dickerson also added 19 points for the Dons. Only four of his points came after halftime.

"I think our guys did a better job of knowing where he was at," Bone said.

And if it is up to the Cougars, who have spent most of their days on the road the past two weeks, they know where they would like to be on Monday -- regardless of whether North Dakota State or Wyoming wins Wednesday night.

"I would really like to play in Pullman," Capers said. "Nothing against the hotels, but I love to sleep in my own bed."

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