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Cougars Prepare for the 38th Annual Sun Classic Tournament
Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 06/21/1999
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December 22, 1998

PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State makes is second appearance in the Sierra Providence Sun Classic Basketball Tournament December 28-29 in El Paso, Texas. The Cougars open the tournament with host Texas-El Paso at 6:00 p.m. PST (7:00 MST). Detroit and Grambling State round out the four-team field.

Tentative Cougar Starters

No. Name                 Pos. Ht.  Wt.  Cl. 1998-99 Statistics
 5  Mike Bush             F   6-5  186  FR  7.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg
13  Kojo Mensah-Bonsu     F   6-5  217  SR  12.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.0 bpg
 3  Blake Pengelly        PG  5-10 163  JR  4.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 4.6 apg
 4  Jan-Michael Thomas    G   5-10 169  JR  14.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg
34  Chris Crosby          G   6-7  215  JR  18.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg


44  Eddie Miller          F   6-6  216  SO  10.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg
41  Steve Slotemaker      F   6-9  221  SR  5.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg
12  Kab Kazadi            G   6-0  184  SR  3.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg
54  Leif Nelson           C   6-10 272  SR  2.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg
42  Will Hutchens         G   6-3  201  SR  1.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg
40  Brian Stewart         C   6-10 223  SO  1.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg
10  Cedric Clark          G   5-11 175  SO  DNP
DARE WE SAY EN FUEGO?: Junior forward Chris Crosby was nearly unstoppable in WSUs 84-69 Dec. 20 win at Idaho. He tied a school record with nine three pointers (set by Bennie Seltzer, vs. Stanford, 2/27/93), was one shy of the Pac-10 record and nearly set another by hitting 90 percent (9-10) of his three point attempts (Eddie Hills 1.000/6-6 is the school mark).

Crosby scored a career-high 38 points (tied for the fifth-highest single game total in school history) on 13-of-17 shooting from the floor and was a perfect three-for-three at the free throw line. His 38 points was the most by a Cougar player since Isaac Fontaine scored 38 in a double-overtime loss to Arizona on March 2, 1995. Crosbys 13 field goals and 17 attempts were also career-highs.

The Littleton, Colo., native has been a key reason why WSU has been able to put together a four-game winning streak. He is the only Coug in double figures during all four; he had 17 versus Portland State, 20 at Eastern Washington and 12 against BYU before the Idaho outburst.

In the last four games, Crosby is averaging 21.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest. He is shooting 50 percent from both the field (31-62) and beyond the three-point arc (18-36) and 87.5 percent (7-8) from the foul line.

Tournament Facts
Monday, December 27, 1998-
Tuesday, December 28, 1998
Don Haskins Center (12,222)

Radio: The Crimson & Gray Sports Network will broadcast all WSU games on its 16-station network with Bud Nameck (6th season) calling the play-by-play. Broadcasts are also available via the Internet,

Records: WSU is 5-4 and on a four-game winning streak after pounding Idaho 84-69 December 20 in Moscow. UTEP was 6-4 before its Dec. 22 home game with Arkansas-Little Rock. The Miners were also on a four-game winning streak coming into the Arkansas-Little Rock game.

Tournament Format: WSU and Texas-El Paso open the tournament on Monday at 6:00 p.m. PST (7:00 MST) with Detroit and Grambling State following at 8:00 p.m. PST (9:00 MST). Tuesdays championship game will be at 7:30 p.m. PST (8:30 MST), while the consolation game will be played at 5:30 p.m. PST (6:30 MST).

Series History: WSU is 2-0 all-time versus Texas-El Paso. The Cougars knocked off UTEP (then Texas Western) at Tempe, Ariz., 67-63 in the consolation round of the 1964 Arizona Invitational. The Cougars were also 70-54 winners over the Miners in the first round of the 1994 Sun Classic in El Paso. WSU has never faced Detroit or Grambling State.

On Deck: Pacific-10 Conference play opens with the Cougars hosting cross-state rival Washington on Sunday, January 3 at the Spokane Arena. That game, which will be televised live on Fox Sports, will start at 2:00 p.m.

1998-99 Schedule/Results
Date Opponent Time Score
11/19 at Alaska-Fairbanks+ L 75-88
11/21 vs. Nebraska+ L 84-95
11/22 vs. Virginia+ L 53-62
11/28 vs. Gonzaga* L 61-70
12/5 at Eastern Washington W 91-72
12/8 BRIGHAM YOUNG@ W 70-69
12/20 at Idaho W 84-69
12/28 at Texas-El Paso 6:00 p.m.
12/29 Detroit or Grambling State TBA
1/3 vs. WASHINGTON (FSN)#* 2:00 p.m.
1/7 at Arizona# 5:37 p.m.
1/9 at Arizona State# 5:00 p.m.
1/14 OREGON# 7:05 p.m.
1/16 OREGON STATE (FSN)# 3:05 p.m.
1/21 at Stanford# 7:30 p.m.
1/23 at California (FSB)# 1:00 p.m.
1/28 UCLA# 7:05 p.m.
1/30 USC (FSNW)# 5:00 p.m.
2/4 ARIZONA STATE# 7:05 p.m.
2/6 ARIZONA (FSN)# 3:00 p.m.
2/11 at Oregon# 7:05 p.m.
2/13 at Oregon State# 5:07 p.m.
2/18 CALIFORNIA# 7:05 p.m.
2/20 STANFORD (FSNW)# 7:00 p.m.
2/25 at UCLA# 7:30 p.m.
2/27 at USC# 5:00 p.m.
3/6 at Washington# 3:00 p.m.
All times Pacific
# Pacific-10 Conference game
+ Top of the World Classic, Fairbanks, Alaska
* Spokane Arena, Spokane, Wash.
Sun Bowl Classic, El Paso, Texas
@ Doubleheader with WSU women

COUGS IN THE SUN CLASSIC: Washington State has played in one previous Sun Classic. During the 1994-95 season, Kevin Eastmans first year at WSU, the Cougars defeated host UTEP in the first round 70-54 before falling to Texas in the championship game 86-81. No current member of the WSU roster played in that tournament, though redshirt-senior forward Steve Slotemaker was enrolled at WSU at the time.

EASTMAN NEARS 200 VICTORIES: Kevin Eastman is in his fifth season as head coach at WSU. He has a 64-63 (.504) five-year record. Among Cougar coaches with at least a four-year tenure, Eastman's winning percentage is fourth, just ahead of Kelvin Sampsons .500 (103-103/1988-94). The New Brunswick, N.J., native's winning percentage also trails three WSU coaching legends, Jack Friel's .568 (495-377/1929-58), Fred Bohler's .561 (226-177/1909-26) and George Raveling's .551 (167-136/1973-83).

Overall in 11 years as a head coach, Eastman holds a 188-138 (.577) record. Included in that are a 65-22 mark at Belmont Abbey and a 59-53 mark at UNC-Wilmington.

Eastman is 1-0 all-time versus Texas-El Paso and Grambling State and has never faced Detroit. His win over Grambling State came while at UNC-Wilmington in 1994.

WHATS THIS, A FULL CUPBOARD?: For the first time this season, all 12 WSU players are expected to be in uniform and healthy when the Cougars take the floor versus Texas-El Paso. From game one, WSU has had at least one player unavailable due to injury.

The first four games, back-up point guard Kab Kazadi was nursing a deep thigh bruise. Then just as Kazadi returned for the Gonzaga game, another player, sophomore forward Eddie Miller, the first of WSUs six left ankle injuries, went down during the last 15 minutes of the last practice before the Gonzaga game.

Sophomore center Brian Stewart was ankle No. 2 just three days later, while senior forward Steve Slotemaker suffered the teams third left ankle sprain during the first half of the December 2 win against Portland State when he fell on a Viking player following a three-point shot attempt. That was a span of six days when three players sprained their left ankle. Miller and Stewart each missed two games, while Slotemaker, has not played since Portland State, a span of three games.

Freshman guard Mike Bush sprained his left ankle walking on an icy sidewalk, while Kazadi suffered a left ankle sprain during a finals week practice. Both were able return in time for the Idaho game.

Perhaps the strangest left ankle sprain happened to senior center Leif Nelson who suffered the injury on December 13 while playing with some local youths during a Cougar appearance in the Pullman community. Nelson missed the Idaho game but is expected to be ready to go versus the Miners.

Cougar players have already sat out a combined 12 games due to injury.

KOJOS MOJO: Senior forward Kojo Mensah-Bonsu has been a spark in WSUs first four-game winning streak of the season. He has two of his three career double-doubles during the streak (17 pts., 10 reb. vs. Portland State and 13 pts., 10 reb. at Idaho) and also scored a career-high 22 points in the Eastern Washington win. During the BYU game, Kojo was held to just eight points, but posted a solid all-around game with six rebounds, two steals, two assists and a block.

Kojos performance included a career-high four blocks versus the Vikings and nine boards in the EWU game -- leaving him one shy of three double-doubles in four games. Kojo is averaging 15.0 points and 8.8 rebounds during the last four games.

SWITCHING STARTERS: Mainly due to injury, WSU has used five different starting lineups in nine games this season. Only senior forward Kojo Mensah-Bonsu and junior guard Blake Pengelly have started all nine games. The Cougs have used the same starting five each of the last three games. Eight of WSUs 13 players have made at least one start this year. Heres a look:

G 1-3 Mensah-Bonsu, Crosby, Nelson, Pengelly, Bush
G 4   Mensah-Bonsu, Crosby, Miller, Pengelly, Thomas
G 5   Mensah-Bonsu, Crosby, Nelson, Pengelly, Thomas
G 6   Mensah-Bonsu, Slotemaker, Pengelly, Thomas, Bush
G 7-9 Mensah-Bonsu, Crosby, Pengelly, Thomas, Bush
1998-99 Career Player Starts
                1998-99 Starts   Career Starts
Mensah-Bonsu           9              12
Pengelly               9              41
Crosby                 8              29
Bush                   7               7
Thomas                 6               6
Nelson                 4              28
Slotemaker             1              14
Miller                 1               1
Kazadi                 0              18
SCOUTING TEXAS-EL PASO: Like the Cougars, UTEP is one of the more proficient three-point shooting teams in the nation. The Miners connect on better than 40 percent of their shots from downtown and make about six treys per game. Another similarity between the two teams is that both have used a number of starting lineups. Both teams have had eight players start at least one game this season and both utilize a three-guard, two-forward lineup. If the game comes down to free throws, UTEP holds the edge at 73 percent to 64 and WSU opponents are averaging 23 free throw attempts per game, while UTEP foes are only getting 18 trips to the line per game.

Senior forward Sharif Fajardo is the only Miner to start every game. He leads a quintet of UTEP players who are scoring nine points or better per game.

Tentative Miner Starters

No. Name               Pos. Ht.  Cl. 1998-99 Statistics
 5  Sharif Fajardo      F   6-9  SR  15.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg
33  Jon Bomba           F   6-11 SR  2.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg
11  Rico Nelson         G   6-1  JR  6.3 ppg, 0.7 rpg
35  Eggie McRae         G   6-1  JR  8.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.9 apg
31  William Smith       G   6-2  JR  9.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.7 apg
LAST GAME: WSUs best game of the year resulted in an 84-69 rout of border rival Idaho December 20 in Moscow. Junior forward Chris Crosbys record day (nine three pointers) and 38 points was the highlight, but a number of individuals posted career marks. Freshman guard Mike Bush tied a career-high with 14 points and more impressively held Idahos leading scorer Gordon Scott to just nine points on two-of-eight shooting from the field. Senior forward Kojo Mensah-Bonsu continues to be a menace down low as he posted his third career double-double with 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. And senior guard Will Hutchens, a former walk-on, played a career-high and very important 19 minutes in place of a foul-plagued Cougar backcourt.

THOMAS NAMED PAC-10 POTW - Junior guard Jan-Michael Thomas was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week on December 14 for his performance in the Cougars 70-69 win against Brigham Young December 8 in Pullman.

Thomas scored 17 of his team-high 22 points in the second half. He converted three of his final four free throw attempts, including the game-winner with nine seconds remaining. On the night, Thomas shot six-of-10 from the field, five-of-eight from three-point range and five-of-six at the free throw line. It was the first time this season WSU won after trailing at the half (34-31) and marked the Cougars' third straight victory.

Thomas, a native of Inglewood, Calif., is is among the Pac-10 leaders in three-point field goal percentage, having connected on 30 of 64 attempts (.469). As a team, the Cougars lead the conference in both team three-point percentage (.436) and three-pointers made per game (8.33). It was the first career award for Thomas and the first Pac-10 player of the week award for WSU since Mark Hendrickson was honored on January 23, 1995. It is the Cougars 13th all-time player of the week award.

At his current pace of 3.3 three-point baskets per game, Thomas would record 96 during WSUs 29-game regular season, which would easily shatter the Cougar single-season record of 83 set by Eddie Hill in 1994.

HOME NON-LEAGUE STREAK AT 41: By defeating Brigham Young 70-69 on December 8, WSU posted its ninth straight perfect home non-conference season. The BYU win was WSUs 41st consecutive non-conference victory in Pullman. The Cougars have not lost at home to a non-conference foe since December 14, 1989, when Idaho escaped Friel Court with a 56-52 win.

The streak began with a 112-81 win over BYU-Hawaii in the first game of the 1990-91 season. WSUs 41 wins include 36 at Friel and five at Bohler Gym (all during the 1990-91 season). The streak also includes NIT victories in 1992 (Minnesota), 1995 (Texas Tech) and 1996 (Gonzaga).

WSU WINS 200th AT FRIEL COURT: Washington States 74-71 victory December 2 against Portland State was the Cougars 200th all-time win at Friel Court. Beginning with an 80-78 WSU victory against Louisiana State on December 1, 1973, the Cougars have won nearly two-thirds of the games they have played there (.653). WSU has a 201-107 all-time record at Beasley. Milestone wins at Friel:

No. 1 WSU 80, LSU 78, 12/1/73
No. 3 WSU 71, USC 56, 1/5/74
  (first league win)
No. 25 WSU 77, Cal 63, 1/8/77
No. 50 WSU 77, USC 57, 1/24/80
No. 100 WSU 75, Oregon 71, 2/14/86
No. 150 WSU 95, Oregon 79, 1/21/93
No. 200 WSU 74, Portland State 71, 12/2/98
CROSBY EARNS ALL-TOURNEY NOD: Junior Chris Crosby was named to the all-tournament team for his play at the Top of the World Classic, November 19-22, in Fairbanks, Alaska. It was the first career all-tournament selection for the Littleton, Colo., native. Crosby was among the tournaments top scorers and rebounders, averaging 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest for the three-game event. Included in that was 25 points and career-highs in rebounds (13) and free throws (12) versus Alaska-Fairbanks.

MANAGER COHN HONORED: Perhaps the surprise of the Top of the World Classic came during the awards ceremony when WSU student manager Jeff Cohn was honored with the Order of Nanook Award. The Fairbanks Princess Hotel presents the award to the top manager, "for meritorious demonstration of courtesy, cooperation and competence." Cohn, a senior from Foster City, Calif., majoring in communications, was honored with two different plaques and a giant collectable polar bear (stuffed, of course).

ABOUT THE SCHEDULE: Washington State is again playing a challenging schedule. The Cougars have eight games against teams ranked in the preseason polls (Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Arizona - twice) and 14 games versus teams that played in the 1998 postseason (NCAA: Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Arizona - twice; Detroit and Nebraska - once; NIT: Arizona State - twice - and Gonzaga; NAIA: Central Washington).

THE PENGELLY IS MIGHTIER THAN: Junior guard Blake Pengelly is climbing WSU career lists in assists and three-point shooting. He currently ranks ninth in assists with 243 (12 behind No. 8 Anthony Kidd), third in three-point field goal percentage at .427 (behind No. 1 Isaac Fontaine, .457, and No. 2 Joe Wallace, .427), ninth in three pointers made with 99 and 10th in three-pointers attempted with 232.

Junior Chris Crosby passed Pengelly for eighth in three-pointers made during the Idaho game and is closing in on No. 7 Brian Wright (111). Here's a look at where Pengelly and Crosby rank:

 1. Bennie Seltzer (1990-93)         473
 2. Keith Morrison (1983-86)         456
 3. Donminic Ellison (1994-96)       441
 4. Marty Giovacchini (1974-77)      371
 5. Dan Steward (1970-72)            277
 6. Isaac Fontaine (1994-97)         269
 7. Brad Johnson (1972-74)           263
 8. Anthony Kidd (1986-89)           255
 9. Blake Pengelly (1997- )          243

Three-Point Field Goals 1. Eddie Hill (1991-94) 233 2. Bennie Seltzer (1990-93) 230 3. Isaac Fontaine (1994-97) 208 4. Terrance Lewis (1991-92) 137 5. Donminic Ellison (1994-96) 128 6. Shamon Antrum (1995-96) 113 7. Brian Wright (1986-89) 111 8. Chris Crosby (1997- ) 107 9. Blake Pengelly (1997- ) 99 10. David Sanders (1986, 88-90) 93 Three-Point Field Goal Attempts 1. Bennie Seltzer (1990-93) 585 2. Eddie Hill (1991-94) 561 3. Isaac Fontaine (1994-97) 455 4. Terrance Lewis (1991-92) 343 5. Donminic Ellison (1994-96) 322 6. Brian Wright (1986-89) 302 7. Shamon Antrum (1995-96) 294 8. Chris Crosby (1997- ) 272 9. David Sanders (1986, 88-90) 251 10. Blake Pengelly (1997- ) 232

Washington State Cougars Men's Basketball