Cougs take down Bears

WSU defeats Northern Colorado behind exceptional Rodman performance



WSU forward DJ Rodman (11) protects the ball from University of Idaho guard Gabe Quinnett (21) during a college basketball game, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Moscow, Idaho.

TOM ABBOTT, Evergreen sports editor

The WSU men’s basketball team (8-4) earned a much-needed win on Saturday against Northern Colorado (6-7), with a final score of 82-56. 

After some trouble in the previous two games, WSU seems to be back on track in nonconference play. 

DJ Rodman led the Cougs with a career-high 21 points. Rodman found most of his success from three-point range, making six three-pointers in the WSU victory. He attacked the rim as well, accounting for 10 rebounds. His performance against Northern Colorado is his first career double-double outing at WSU and his first time leading the Cougs in scoring. Overall, this is the third double-double of the season for the Cougars.

“I’ve always had the green light this whole year, I just haven’t been shooting it very well,” Rodman said. “Some of it’s a little mental, but I think I grew out of that this game, especially because I shot eleven threes, which is a lot.”

Northern Colorado seemed outmatched by WSU throughout the game. Dru Kuxhausen and Kur Jongkuch led the team with 11 points each, but Northern Colorado could not match WSU’s consistent offense as a team. WSU’s offense kept Northern Colorado trailing for the vast majority of the game, with the Bears last leading 6-5 just five minutes into the game. 

WSU’s depth continued to shine in the victory over Northern Colorado with five players scoring double-digits for the third game this year. The WSU bench combined for an impressive 51 points, further proving WSU’s depth.

Michael Flowers scored the second-most points on the team with a solid 16 point outing. Flowers was the main play maker for the Cougs, leading with four assists. He has been a consistent scoring threat so far this season and is likely to continue the trend as the season continues. He has scored over 10 points in the last five games straight.

Andrej Jakimovski had a stand-out, 14-point performance against Northern Colorado. Jakimovski has been somewhat quiet off the bench so far this season but made his presence known on Saturday. He also put up five rebounds for the Cougars victory. 

“He’s a really good ball handler and he’s a good shooter and a good passer,” WSU head coach Kyle Smith said about Jakimovski. “Part of the thing when he penetrates, he’s got to be able to finish or else they’re going to play his pass. He’s getting more confident and it’s good to see.”

Efe Abogidi was responsible for 12 points and shot a flawless 4-4 from the free-throw line. Saturday’s game was the second consecutive double-digit outing for Abogidi. WSU fans have come to know him as a threat on both offense and defense, able to crash the boards and come away with rebounds. Abogidi did just that against Northern Colorado, responsible for four rebounds.

Noah Williams put up 11 points in the Cougars win but had the opportunity to score much more. He went 3-13 on shot attempts from the court and matched Abogidi’s free-throw success with a flawless 4-4 outing from the line. 

Overall, WSU shot over 30 three-pointers for the third game in a row. WSU started the season with a close-range approach, but seems to be adapting well to opposing defensive game plans that stress lock-down defense in the paint.

“You gotta take what the defense gives you,” Smith said. “Tonight their objective was to clog the paint.”

WSU forced an impressive 17 turnovers, tying their season-high for the second consecutive game. 

WSU’s Dishon Jackson eased back into the rotation, playing eight minutes in the Cougar win. Jackson is coming off a thumb injury received in a previous game. Getting Jackson 100% healthy and back to his normal playing time is of huge importance with the return to Pac-12 play around the corner.

WSU plays one more non-conference game before returning to Pac-12 play. The Cougs (8-4) host Boise State (7-4) at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Spokane.