The Pac-12's leading scorer, WSU post Brock Motum, looked to be well on his way with four early points but went down inside the first two minutes after landing awkwardly on DaVonte Lacy's ankle under the basket. With Motum unable to return (more on his injury later), it looked bleak for the Cougs against the Pac-12's highest scoring team. But Lodwick and Moore picked up the scoring slack, and then some.
The opportunity to play for the CBI title couldn't have come without Lodwick, who went nuclear over the final 6 ½ minutes of the first half. Washington State held a 19-17 lead when Lodwick, a native of Bend, Oregon, took over.
The redshirt senior tied his career-high (16 points) in the first half alone. Lodwick was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc with five rebounds over the first twenty minutes. And as time ran down in the first half, Lodwick drilled a 3-point shot from the parking lot to give the Cougs a 39-29 lead heading into the break.
Lodwick finished the game with his first career double-double – 23 points and 12 rebounds, on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor and 5-of-8 from 3-point land.
"Wow! Abe Lodwick," Ken Bone exclaimed in a post-game interview. "Twenty-three points and 12 rebounds -- what a night! And he did it right here in Oregon."
Lodwick is playing with plenty of confidence these days.
"It feels good," Lodwick said. "I feed off my teammates and they've done a good job of feeding me with good looks. When you're getting good open looks and you see them go down, you get more and more confident."
THE COUGS WILL need Lodwick to continue his scoring ways. Motum's status likely won't be known for a while, but his availability for Monday looks to be in serious doubt.
Bone fears it could potentially be more serious an injury than an ankle sprain. Bone said on the postgame radio interview the WSU trainers examined Motum and weren't so sure that it was just a sprain because Motum couldn't even stand on his toes without pain. Bone also said Motum is a tough player but was in excruciating pain on the floor and junior point guard Reggie Moore came up to Bone to let him know the injury seemed quite severe.
Speaking of Moore, it wasn't just Lodwick who stepped up his game on offense. Moore was attacking the glass all night and similar to Lodwick, enjoyed early success in the first half. Moore only shot 7-of-18 from the floor but had 22 points, with 12 in the first half. He scored 10 of the Cougs first 19 points.
"Reggie's been really good in that he's deferred to a lot of guys the last two years and has embraced his role as a true point guard," Bone said. "Trust me, there was a time in high school and prep school where he was a scorer. He led the league in assists this year and he's really done whatever he can to fulfill that role. But there have been times where he understands he's got to score and be aggressive to look to score and tonight he did that."
The Cougars held the Beavers to only 55 points, their lowest total of the year. They did so by playing great team defense throughout the night and despite putting OSU into the bonus early in both halves.
Senior Marcus Capers did a stand-up job holding explosive Jared Cunningham to only 13 points, well below his 18.1 point average. The Beavers only had two players in double figures with Cunningham and Eric Moreland (14). OSU shot 38 percent, connecting on only 19-of-50 attempts.
"Our guys really rallied," Bone said. "They obviously didn't want this to be their last night and as a staff we're just proud of this group. They've been a great group to coach all year long."
The Cougs now move to the best-of-three championship series.
"That will be unique," Bone said. "It's different than anything I've been involved with but we're looking forward to it."