Casto, bench supercharge Cougs' season

DeANGELO CASTO was the player of the game, scoring 19 points, pulling down nine rebounds and blocking three shots, but the story line Saturday in Washington State's resounding 78-60 basketball win over Arizona pointed to the WSU bench.

There was Brock Motum, the lightly-used freshman from Australia, turning in 17 stellar minutes in place of Abe Lodiwck, who was under the weather and didn't play. Motum had 10 points, one rebound and an assist.

There was Steven Bjornstad, the almost never-used 6-10 freshman from Vancouver, coming up with a big-time block in his three minutes of court time. There was sophomore Michael Harthun taking a charge in the paint that kept the momentum on the Cougars' side just before halftime. There was Xavier Thames providing solid defense, scoring five points and dishing an assist in 23 minutes of action.

And there was James Watson, the post man known for rebounding and shot blocking, canning two mid-range jumpers. He also collected three rebounds and had a nifty block.

The Cougars are now 15-8 overall and 5-6 in the jumbled Conference of Parity. The Cougs are one game out of second place and could put a jolt into their season if they can extend Saturday's mojo to the upcoming swing through the Bay Area.

Indeed, against the Wildcats the Cougs turned in one of their most complete, start-to-finish efforts of the season. The victory ended a three-game losing streak and puts WSU firmly into the thick of a wild conference race.

Head coach Ken Bone told the Cougar Radio Network that the Cougs haven't put together that kind of complete game, on offense and defense, in a while.

The Cougars' zone defense stymied Arizona on offense.

Bone said he wasn't sure what to expect of his team earlier in the day when he walked into the shoot-around session and found half the guys sitting around talking.

"I thought oh my goodness … but when the time came to play, they were ready," he said.

Perhaps no one was more ready than Casto. His 19 point marked a career high and his work under the boards – against the Pac-10's top rebounding team – was excellent.

Casto said that before the game Bone told him "you're the energy guy." And he was. On offense, he was active with turnaround jumpers and hooks. On defense, he had three blocks and a steal.

Freshman point guard Reggie Moore also had a productive outing. He scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished three assists and had two steals. Klay Thompson scored 14, had three rebounds and four assists – two of them leading to Motum slam dunks.

NOTABLE:
* The Cougs swept Arizona this season and now are 5-3 against the Cats over the last four seasons. Casto scored the game-winner at the buzzer when WSU won at Tucson earlier this season.

Motum fights through Williams, Hill