November 2, 1998
PULLMAN, Wash. - The Washington State men's basketball team overcame foul trouble and 50 opponent free throw attempts to earn a 99-87 victory against NBC Thunder, a Spokane-based club, in the first of two exhibitions for the Cougars this season.
Officials' whistles allowed neither team to gain momentum as both squads were tagged for 33 fouls apiece.
"From a teaching standpoint this substantiates what we've been saying in practice," head coach Kevin Eastman said of his team's fouling. Ten of the 12 Cougars were called for at least two fouls.
"Same story every year in the first exhibition," said Chris Crosby, who hit 13 of his team-high 19 points in the first half. "Before you can even get into a flow, and there wasn't one tonight, you know it's going to happen. Guys are going to play over-aggressive. They're just jacked up."
Crosby was a steadying force on offense in the early stages of the game by scoring WSU's first eight points. The 6-foot-7 junior made 5-of-7 shots in the half, including 3-of-4 3-point attempts, to help the Cougars come back from a nine-point deficit and claim a 44-39 halftime advantage.
With the Cougars clinging to a six-point lead in the second half 78-72, Crosby provided two assists and banged home his fourth 3-pointer of the evening which capped an 11-0 run and gave WSU its biggest lead of the contest with 4:48 remaining. NBC also turned the ball three times during the stretch thanks to some pressure defense by the Cougars.
"The way we're playing this year, what got us back in sync, was our press," Eastman said. "That led to some easy baskets. We might have got more easy baskets in this game than we got in half our games last season."
Leif Nelson (Riverside, Calif.) posted a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds in his 24 minutes on the floor and Kojo Mensah-Bonsu (London, England) also reached double figures with 12 points. Shann Ferch paced four double-digit scorers for the Thunder with a game-high 32 points.