Washington State worked hard for another win. They completely dominated the Idaho State Bengals Tuesday night in Pullman, 60-41.
Coach Bennett's troops played excellent defense in the first half, shutting down the Bengal offense. Idaho State went through a stretch of over seven minutes without a bucket.
How tough was the Cougar defense in the first half? They held the Bengals to a ridiculous 32% from the field.
Once again Klay Thompson got off to a hot start on offense for WSU. He knocked down his first three shots, finishing the first twenty minutes 5-7 shooting. Klay was a nice 2-3 from behind the arc and led the Cougs in scoring at intermission with a smooth 14 points.
That was a question being asked about WSU when they fell into their own shooting slump, going nearly eight minutes without a basket. Then again, that doesn't hurt a defensive minded club. The Cougs didn't give up a single hoop to Idaho State during their own scoring drought.
Quintessential Bennett ball when the score is 30-15 at halftime.
Right off the bat there was more of the same. Aron Baynes blocked a couple of shots and contributed all the WSU offense as the Cougs ran off a quick six points before Idaho State even had their defensive assignments.
As WSU got off to a great beginning to the second half, Coach Bennett began looking at different player combinations. He put DeAngelo Casto out on the floor with Baynes for some serious front line size. Didn't seem possible, but the "D" for WSU lifted another notch.
How tough did things get for the Bengals?
Midway through the second half, Idaho State was able to amass a total of four points. Two free throws and a bucket was all the stingy WSU players were going to allow on their home court.
With the game well in hand for Washington State, Coach Bennett inserted an all-freshman lineup. He got just about what you might expect. Idaho State shooters found themselves with more space and began making their jump shots. High energy doesn't necessarily translate into fine play. For the freshmen, it was a learning process.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Bengals closed the gap for a final score of 60-41.
The extra minutes for Casto in the second half paid some nice dividends. He is gaining confidence and getting a feel for the defensive rotations. Casto is a name to remember...along with the smooth-as-silk Klay Thompson.
One last bright spot for the Cougs was the game Tayor Rochestie played. He finished with nine points, but handed out some nice assists and looked more like himself. Home cooking must have been what Taylor needed to get back on track.
Coach Bennett must be pleased with the defensive effort of his team. They worked hard, blocking shots, packing the lane while maintaining contact with the opposition players.
This might be a rebuilding year, but so far it doesn't look like things are much different from the play of last year. And if the young guns find their offensive stride, this is going to be a great season for Cougar basketball.