Brock Motum, the sophomore from Down Under, came off the bench to hit 6-of-9 field goals and score 17 points -- two shy of his career best.
Abe Lodwick, the wily starter from Bend, tied his single-game high with three 3-pointers and scored a season-high nine points.
And then there was lightly used junior center Charlie Enquist of Edmonds. He played just five minutes, but they were golden ones as WSU backfilled for DeAngelo Casto, who got into foul trouble and sat for much of the first half.
"It feels good," said Lodwick of canning three of his five shots from downtown. "It's a part of my game that sometimes it's on and sometimes its not but I've been getting up a lot of extra shots and it feels good for it to pay off late in the season."
Lodwick’s work wasn’t just on offense. With Casto on the bench, Lodwick and Motum were in a battle down low with Oklahoma State's 6-foot-7, 255-pound forward Marshall Moses. The big Cowboy had a 48-pound advantage on Lodwick and 25-pound edge on Motum, but the two stood their ground. Moses himself got into foul trouble, and wound up with only two points and four rebounds.
Motum’s star, however, sparkled most brightly on offense. Motum closed out the first half by scoring WSU’s final six points, giving the Cougs a 38-29 lead at intermission.
Motum knocked down one 3-pointer on the night, late in the second half to put WSU up by 12, but the majority of his points in the paint by doing what he does best: slashing to the rim for layups.
"He's a got a really good ability of cutting to the basket when his (defensive) guy helps out," Thompson said of Motum. "He did a great job of that and he's really effective cutting to the basket."
With Faisal Aden, Reggie Moore, and Casto struggling to find their rhythm (a collective 3 of 16 from the field) on the offensive end, Motum filled the breach like an old pro.
"Brock's a very good scorer," said head coach Ken Bone. "He has a great feel for the game on the offensive end and has a real good knack for scoring. Points per minute he's probably close to Klay, he does a great job of scoring per minutes played."
Against the Cowboys, Motum nearly had a point per minute. He played 21.
As for Enquist, who is better known as “Chuck Diesel” in ZZU CRU circles, he scored three points, grabbed a rebound and nearly had an assist but Lodwick inexplicably missed an easy layup. One play in particular illustrated his value Thursday.
Following a miss by Moore, Enquist tipped the ball in the air, then dove to the ground full extension to grab it and then fired the ball to Moore. It led to a missed three pointer by Thompson, but Marcus Capers got on his high horse and threw down an electrifying tip-in dunk that had SportsCenter top 10 written all over it. Enquist left the floor a few minutes later, but received a well deserved ovation from the 5,201 on hand.
Hard work runs in the Enquist blood. Charlie's father, Paul, walked on at WSU in the 1970s but was cut by head coach George Raveling. He wanted to continue in sports so he thought he try his hand at crew. A decade later he won a gold medal in the double sculls at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
"Charlie comes every day to practice and has a phenomenal attitude and gives us great effort," Bone said. "He's one of those guys that we can just count on. It's always nice to see him get rewarded with a few minutes here and there because he really has done a good job.
"Unfortunately for him he's playing behind Abe and DeAngelo and Brock and so there aren't a lot of minutes to go around but I'm really proud of what he's done on the floor. You can just always count on him, doesn't matter what time of the game, he's ready to go."
WSU now preps for the NIT quarterfinals this Wednesday night at 8 PT against Northwestern at Friel Court (ESPN2). The winner heads to New York for the final four.
"I'm excited at the fact that I feel like we're playing our best basketball at the very end of the year," Bone said. "Not all teams can say that but that's what you want to achieve. You work 5-6 months and here we are in mid-March and we're still at it."
"I think we're playing our best if not close to it," Thompson said. "A lot of us know that we can't ever go back so we're trying to make the most of it and we know we have the ability to get to New York and win this tournament and we're playing like it."