BALANCE. It has been a buzzword throughout the season for Washington State’s basketball season. And one it finally achieved offensively as five Cougars scored in double figures to earn their first Pac-12 road win, 83-73, Thursday night at Oregon State. It marked the fourth consecutive win in the series for WSU.
Perhaps no one was more significant in that effort than junior point guard Reggie Moore. Taking advantage of a Beavers’ defense that allowed a conference-worst 71.9 points per game, Moore had a career-high 11 assists and four steals.
After splitting a pair of free throws, a Moore steal culminated in a putback by sophomore forward D.J. Shelton that helped WSU (13-11 overall, 5-7 conference) finish the first half on a 12-2 run. That gave the Cougars a 46-31 lead at the intermission.
“I felt like our focus was good,” WSU coach Ken Bone said during a postgame radio interview. “We were ready for the 1-3-1 (zone) and moved the ball well.”
Much of that was built on a substantial turnover differential. OSU (15-9, 5-7), which entered the game with a plus-four advantage per game in that statistic, had 11 giveaways at halftime to just three for WSU. The Cougars had a 22-3 edge in points off turnovers at the intermission.
That was too much even for a Beavers’ squad that entered the game averaging 86 points per game at Gill Coliseum to overcome.
AND THAT WAS not only because of WSU’s offense. The Cougars, whose 186th-ranked defensive efficiency by statistical analyst Ken Pomeroy actually was worse than OSU’s (123rd), held the Beavers to 37 percent shooting.
“We did a good job on both ends,” Bone said. “I’m really proud of our guys.”
About the only player they could not contain was guard Jared Cunningham, who made 10 of 20 shots en route to a game-high 33 points.
But Cunningham found himself without much help, which is the role WSU junior center Brock Motum frequently has suffered since senior guard Faisal Aden suffered a season-ending knee injury Jan. 26 at Arizona.
Motum had no shortage of help Thursday, though.
None were more surprising than Shelton, whose uncle, Lonnie, starred in the 1970s for the Beavers before winning an NBA championship with the Seattle Sonics.
“My uncle had a great career here so it would only be right for me to come in here and show respect,” said Shelton, who had six offensive rebounds.
The younger Shelton, who played three minutes combined last week, scored a career-high 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds, to help WSU win for the fifth time in six seasons in Corvallis. Shelton also made all five of his field goals and was perfect in four free-throw attempts.
In addition to Shelton and Motum, who scored 24 points and had nine rebounds, senior guard Marcus Capers finished with 12 points, while freshman DaVonté Lacy and Moore each had 10. It was Moore’s second double-double of his career.
It was the first conference road win for the Cougars, who have won 10 of their last 12 meetings versus OSU, since beating Washington 80-69 on Feb. 27, 2011. WSU now is 1-5 in Pac-12 road games this season.
“It was really tough,” Shelton said. “I’m glad we came out here and showed everyone we could do it.”
The Cougars will have an opportunity to gain their first conference road sweep since January 2009 when they play at 3 p.m. Saturday at Oregon.
WSU’s 83 points are a season-high in conference play. The Cougars previously defeated OSU 81-76 on Dec. 31. WSU also defeated Stanford, 81-69, on Jan. 19.
Moore’s 137 assists this season is tied with Keith Morrison (1985) for eighth most in one season.
The Cougars are 27-19 against the Beavers since their legendary coach Ralph Miller retired after the 1988-89 season.
Bone improved to 5-1 against the Beavers as WSU’s coach.