PULLMAN– The Arkansas-Pine Bluff basketball team will play 11 road games before making its home debut in January, so coach George Ivory understands that his résumé is going to take a hit in the won-loss department.
“We’re doing something financially for the university,” is the diplomatic manner in which Ivory describes the Golden Lions’ brutal early schedule.
Beasley Coliseum was the fifth stop on Pine Bluff’s crowded travel log. The Golden Lions’ reward for a 66-38 thumping Saturday night was a nice paycheck from the Washington State Cougars, who improved to 3-0 at home after going 0-3 on their first road trip.
“It’s great to be back home,” WSU coach Ken Bone said. “It’s fun to play at Beasley in front of a, uh, crowd? That’s considered a crowd, right?”
With many students out of town on Thanksgiving break, the crowd was much smaller than the announced 4,571. The missing spectators didn’t miss much, except for the usual blowout that takes place when a Southwestern Athletic Conference team faces one from the Pacific-12 Conference.
The Golden Lions (1-4) shot a frosty 30 percent from the field, including 22.3 percent on 3-pointers, and 44.4 percent at the free-throw line.
WSU outrebounded the smallish Lions, 39-24, and had a 20-6 advantage in assists.
Pine Bluff briefly led the sluggish Cougars, 16-14, before WSU went on an 18-0 run that carried over from one half to the next. Almost nine minutes went by between Pine Bluff baskets.
Brock Motum, who tied teammate Royce Woolridge for game honors with 14 points, scored his first seven points in the final 3:55 of the first half.
“Once we started being aggressive, we started exploiting their zone (defense) a lot more,” Motum said.
Woolridge, a point guard who redshirted at WSU last season after seeing little action as a freshman at Kansas, set career highs for points and 3-pointers (four). The son of former NBA star Orlando Woolridge also harassed Pine Bluff’s guards on defense.
“Our defense was good,” Woolridge said, “but there’s always little things we can work on.”
Dexter Kernich-Drew, making his second start in place of injured wing DaVonté Lacy, gave the Cougars a third player in double figures when he scored 10 points.
“Dexter, he’s doing OK,” Bone said. “He’s made a few shots, but he’s got a few things to work on.”
Translation: Bone is eager to get Lacy back in the lineup.
The tri-captain out of Curtis High School is wearing a large brace on the left knee he injured Monday against Kansas. He’s out indefinitely.
The Cougars return to action Wednesday at home against 1-3 Idaho (7 p.m., Pac-12 Network).