No shortage of subplots in WSU's 74-52 win

IT IS ILLOGICAL to make assessments about a game against an overmatched Texas Pan-American team. Ignore the final score, a 74-52 win by the Cougars on Friday at Spokane Arena. That never was in doubt, even before the game tipped off.

What makes games such as these interesting are the subplots. On this night, one of those was wing Marcus Capers.

Capers sometimes is the most forgotten player among a talented quartet of Washington State juniors, which includes guard Faisal Aden, center DeAngelo Casto and wing Klay Thompson.

He has always been the defensive specialist among that group — the quintessential recruit under Dick and Tony Bennett: defense first and hope that offense develops later.

Capers improved dramatically on offense last season; his field-goal percentage improved from 29 percent to 55.9 percent as a sophomore as he developed a solid mid-range jumper. But that was all as Capers did not even attempt a 3-pointer last season. He missed all 11 of his career attempts from beyond the arch before finally hitting one in the first half of Friday's game to help the Cougars to a 36-24 halftime lead.

IT WAS ONE of the more significant moments in yet another otherwise listless game. After playing No. 5 Kansas State and Gonzaga, which was ranked before its loss last week against Illinois, WSU (7-1) looked like it was more focused on next week's finals.

"I don't know if finals were on their minds," said WSU coach Ken Bone in his post-game comments after earning his 100th Division I win in parts of five seasons with Portland State and the Cougars. "This last week can be very draining. That's three games in seven nights — and finals are next week."

WSU sophomore forward Brock Motum agreed.

"We played Kansas State and Gonzaga, which were such highs," he said. "It just took us a little while to get going."

Thompson, who arguably had his best game Wednesday in an 81-59 win against Gonzaga, did not start the second half, and left with 9 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game with four fouls. Thompson returned later and finished with 15 points. Bone said he simply wanted to see Aden with the starters to kick off the second half.

HE WAS NOT the only starter who struggled. Junior forward Abe Lodwick missed all five of his 3-pointers and did not score.

Lodwick's experience and superior defense thwarted Motum's challenge for the starting position at power forward, but the latter continues to press for more playing time. Motum, who entered the game shooting 73.5 percent from the field, made 6 of 7 shots to finish with 13 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes.

While Motum took advantage of the height-challenged Broncos (3-8), Aden helped secure the win with his outside shooting prowess. He converted 8 of 15 shots, including 4 of 6 3-pointers, en route to a game-high 20 points and seven rebounds.

"Once you get into a rhythm, it becomes a lot easier," Motum said.

True freshman walk-on Will DiIorio, a Bainbridge High School graduate, did not produce stellar numbers, but seems to be gaining confidence among the coaching staff. Last season's Metro League Player of the Year made his only shot to finish with two points in six minutes.

The Cougars next play at 7 p.m. Dec. 19 at Santa Clara.

"We will take the next five days off," Bone said. "They will have time to prepare for finals."

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • WSU assistant coach Curtis Allen said he will be watching high-school prospects next week as the team takes time off to prepare for finals. During the pregame show, broadcaster Bud Nameck asked Allen about finding centers. The Cougars have not featured a true center since 6-foot-10 Aron Baynes graduated after the 2008-09 season. "When they're out there, the whole world is recruiting them," said Allen, adding that he is confident the coaching staff will be able to fill that void in the near future.

  • Attendance for the game was announced as 4,382. That's a sobering number coming just hours after WSU announced that the Cougs would open Pac-12 play next December in the Spokane Arena against the two Oregon schools. Despite Spokane's ho-hum support for the Cougs, putting those conference games in Spokane next year makes sense because Pullman will be empty due to the Christmas break.

  • Reggie Moore continues to increase his playing time since coming back three games ago from the wrist injury that shelved him at the start of the season. He turned in a team-high 32 minutes against Texas-Pan Am. That followed 28 minutes vs. Gonzaga and 27 against Kansas State.


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