PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) Noah Williams’ defensive performance in the second half helped lead Washington State on a 17-5 run and to a 65-60 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sunday night.
The freshman had eight points, one of his two blocks and two steals after halftime.
“Noah’s performance was awesome,” said WSU Head Coach Kyle Smith. “I was a little apprehensive in the first half because they were playing a lot of zone. We put Noah in the middle of the zone in the second half and kept him out there defensively and he really turned the game for us defensively and caused a lot of good things for us.”
CJ Elleby had 22 points, his ninth game this season scoring at least 20, and also had seven rebounds and two assists. Isaac Bonton chipped in 16 points, five rebounds and three assists and Jeff Pollard added 11 points.
After a lackluster first half where they were held to just 32% shooting, the Cougars (9-4) outscored Arkansas-Pine Bluff 26-0 in the paint during the second.
The game was close until the Cougars went on a 17-5 run late in the second to close out the Golden Lions.
After outrebounding the Cougars 21-13 and winning the battle in the paint 18-6 in the first half, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-11) was dominated inside in the second and held to just 28% shooting after making 13 of 26 from the field before the break. The Golden Lions also gave up 13 fast break points to the Cougars in the second.
“Washington State is a very good basketball team but I thought we executed a lot better and had our turnovers down a lot more than we usually do,” said Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach George Ivory. “Overall I thought we came hard and played mean. It was a good game to me.”
Dequan Morris and Jamil Wilson each had eight points for the Golden Lions.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: The Golden Lions head into Southwestern Athletic Conference play on a six-game losing streak.
Washington State: The Cougars are on a six-game winning streak going into Pac-12 play.
Smith said Texas State transfer point guard Jaylen Shead will at least miss the Cougars’ games next week against the L.A. schools with a re-aggravated hip injury, originally sustained when he took a rough tumble during a Nov. 17 win over Idaho State.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: The Golden Lions open their SWAC slate at Mississippi Valley State on Saturday.
Washington State: The Cougars begin Pac-12 play at home against Southern California on Thursday.
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