PULLMAN, Wash. – All 5 starters scored in double figures, as Washington State University men’s basketball defeated Central Washington University, 93-56, in exhibition action, Friday, at Beasley Coliseum.
Senior D.J. Shelton led the Cougar scoring with 17 points in 22 minutes, adding 8 rebounds. Junior Dexter Kernich-Drew added 16 points and 6 rebounds, while his classmate, DaVonté Lacy finished with 12 points, 3 steals and 2 assists. Junior guard Royce Woolridge dished out a game-high 6 assists, adding 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting, while sophomore Junior Longrus finished with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
In their debuts off the bench true freshman Ike Iroegbu scored 6 points and grabbed 4 rebounds, while redshirt freshman Que Johnson had 7 points.
Central Washington was paced by Mark McLaughlin’s 15 points, while J.B. Pillard led the team on the boards with 6 rebounds. The Cougars shot .500 (33-for-66) from the field on the game, compared to the Wildcats’ .333 (18-for-54). WSU turned the ball over 13 times, while CWU did 14 times for 16 and 12 points, respectively off of turnovers.
Both Cougars and Wildcats started out the second half strong, exchanging baskets after Woolridge scored first 35, seconds in, to extend the Coug lead to 47-25. Kernich-Drew scored 5 points in a row once again, Longrus had 4 points of his own and Woolridge put up 3 more as the Cougars took a 59-37 lead with 14:37 to go in the game. With the score at 61-39, the Cougars scored 6-straight points to extend their lead. WSU held strong down the stretch and went on for the 93-56 victory.
Seeing action in just the second half, freshman Josh Hawkinson scored 6 points and grabbed 8 boards in 10 minutes, while blocking one shot. Junior James Hunter scored 5 points in the final 2 minutes and his classmate, Keaton Hayenga added 2 points and 2 rebounds in the final 3 minutes.
Lacy and Shelton paced the Cougar scoring with 12 points apiece in the first half. Shelton and Longrus each had 5 rebounds, while Woolridge had 4 of WSU’s 7 assists. With the new officiating emphasis, a total of 29 fouls were called in the first period. WSU shot .571 (12-for-21) from the field in the first half, including .417 (5-for-12) from the 3-point line. Central Washington shot just .269 (7-for-26) in the first 20 minutes, but .375 (3-for-8) from 3-point range and .800 (8-for-10) from the free throw line.
The Cougars got off to a slow start to the game, missing four of their first seven free throw attempts, trailing Central Washington, 4-3 with 17:41 to go in the first half. Lacy landed the Cougs’ first field goal, a 3-pointer, at the 16:40 mark to give the Cougars a 6-4 lead. From that point, Shelton hit a 3 of his own, followed by Lacy’s second 3-pointer for a 12-4 lead. Lacy and Shelton each scored 10 points, Kernich-Drew 4, Johnson 2 and Longrus 1 as the Cougars went on a 24-4 run in the first 11 and a half minutes for a 27-7 lead.
Trailing 29-9 with 7:39 to go in the first, the Wildcats used an 8-2 run of their own to cut the Cougar lead to 14. After two missed free throws by Will DiIorio made it look like the door was open for CWU, DiIorio redeemed himself with a layup, followed by a Cougar steal and layup by Woolridge for 4-straight Cougar points and a 35-17 lead under the 5 minute mark. WSU led by 20, 45-25 at the end of the first half.
This season the Cougars and Wildcats met in exhibition action, but the two teams have met during the regular season 26 times. WSU leads the all-time series, 23-3, with the last meeting coming Nov. 16, 1998. The first meeting came during the 1927-28 season, as the two teams played consistently through 1952. After 42 years without playing each other, the Cougars and Wildcats faced each other once again, Dec. 12, 1994.
Washington State will open up the regular season in Pullman when it hosts CSU Bakersfield, Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. at Beasley Coliseum.