Motum was hot from the onset, scoring 11 of the Cougars’ (12-10, 4-6) first 16 points. WSU led 30-24 at halftime.
Southern California (6-17, 1-9) put together a 14-4 run midway through the second half, cutting the Cougars’ lead to 49-45 with 6:42 remaining, but WSU went 4 of 5 at the free throw line during a minute-long span to go up 56-45 with 3:38 left.
“Guys on the court were a little fatigued. (There) was some miscommunication,” WSU guard Mike Ladd said. “We told each other to stick together, that we had to get these stops and that was pretty much it.”
Motum accounted for WSU’s final two points when he grabbed a defensive rebound and was immediately fouled, proceeding to hit both foul shots. Motum was the only Cougar player to finish in double figures.
“USC came in and did a great job. Every time we got to (a 10 or 11-point lead), they would cut it down to five or six, and that’s two possessions,” WSU coach Ken Bone said. “I’m really pleased we were able to pull out a win. We needed it.”
The Cougars dominated play in the paint, outscoring the Trojans 24-14, with the bulk of that scoring load going to Motum, but they also won the rebound battle 34-20, holding USC to only three offensive boards. Motum led the Cougars with eight rebounds.
“I just try to do whatever the team needs,” Motum said. “Once we get in the paint, it’s hard to guard and the guards did a good job finding me.”
USC challenged WSU from the outside early in the second half, hitting a trio of 3-pointers, with Garrett Jackson draining two of them in just over a minute.
But Jackson, who finished with 15 points, picked up his fourth foul with just over 11 minutes left in the game and sat for nearly eight minutes. He came back and closed out the Trojan scoring when he hit a jumper and the ensuing foul shot with 1:43 remaining, narrowing WSU’s lead to 58-53. The Cougars were able to control the ball and the clock for the remainder of the game to seal the victory. Jackson fouled out with 17 seconds remaining.
“We played well as a team,” Motum said. “Tonight we got stops down the stretch. We really needed that.”