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Cougars Set to Host Gonzaga

Men's basketball at home for first time since Nov. 14.

December 4, 1997

PULLMAN, Wash. - The Washington State men's basketball team, back from a seventh-place finish in the San Juan Shootout, plays its first game in Pullman since the Cougars defeated Central Washington 90-61 Nov. 14.

The Cougars (3-2 overall) welcome the Gonzaga Bulldogs (6-1 overall), who will complete a seven-game road stretch tonight. This is the first meeting between the two teams at Friel Court since WSU beat GU 92-73 in the 1996 National Invitation Tournament.

Since the series resumed in 1996 (they had last played No. 25, 1988, - a 64-63 GU win) the Cougars have won all three meetings with GU by an average margin of 12 points. WSU also holds the all-time advantage 94-38 in the series that started in 1908.

Each team has been shooting the ball extremely well from the field (both .500) and from 3-point range (WSU .444, GU .496). The Cougars made a season-best 63.2 percent of their shots vs. Penn.

Both losses for WSU this season came during the San Jan Shootout where the Cougars dropped their first two decisions to South Florida (59-61 OT) and Penn (67-69) before they topped host Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (85-51). WSU set a school record for steals against UPR-Mayaguez with 17 total (previous record of 16) and senior Rodrigo de la Fuente had seven steals to finish one off the school mark set by Don Collins in 1980.

The steadiest player for the Cougars so far has been de la Fuente who has paced WSU in scoring during all five games. He's the team's second-leading rebounder (6.6) next to Carlos Daniel (7.2) and already has converted 26 of 31 free throw attempts (.839).

In San Juan, Daniel showed no ill effects from the MCL sprain he suffered during the Brigham Young victory Nov. 19. He played 42 of 45 minutes during the South Florida game.

Washington State Cougars (3-2) - Tentative Starters

No. Name                  Pos. Ht.   Wt.  Yr. Hometown            Ppg  Rpg
21  Carlos Daniel          F   6-7   245  SR  Louisville, Colo.  12.0  7.2
34  Chris Crosby           F   6-7   218  SO  Littleton, Colo.   14.6  3.4
41  Steve Slotemaker       F   6-9   221  JR  Aloha, Ore.         5.0  3.8
14  Rodrigo de la Fuente   G   6-6.5 204  SR  Madrid, Spain      18.8  6.6
03  Blake Pengelly         PG  5-10  163  SO  Eugene, Ore.        6.2  2.0

Head Coach: Kevin Eastman (176-117 career, 11 years / 52-42 WSU, 4 years)

Three Dot Notes - In 57 games played in Pullman, Washington State owns a 43-14 record over Gonzaga...WSU's last home loss to the Bulldogs came Dec. 10, 1986 - a 58-59 decision.

Washington State Cougars Men's Basketball