November 14, 1997
PULLMAN, Wash. -- Senior Rodrigo de la Fuente scored a game-high 19 points and sophomore Chris Crosby added 17 points as the Washington State men's basketball team defeated Central Washington 90-61 at Friel Court Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
The Cougars (1-0 overall) shot 50 percent from the field and 78 percent from 3-point range. Defensively, WSU held the visiting Wildcats (0-1) to just 35 percent from the field and forced CWU to take 25 3-point shots.
"We anticipated a tough game," said WSU head coach Kevin Eastman. "I thought we played hard and had the normal lulls. We were trying to guard against that in preparation. This year's team kept the attention level up longer than any of the three previous teams we've had in games like this when you are an unquestionable favorite."
The pesky Wildcats hung around until the middle of the first half before a 12-0 Cougar run gave WSU a 30-16. Point guard Blake Pengelly started the drive with a bullet pass to junior center Leif Nelson who caught the ball with one hand and turned for the dunk.
The Cougars also committed 11 first-half turnovers and finished with 20 for the game. "Right now we are not valuing the basketball and that will come into play in games when it's going to actually beat us," said Eastman.
Senior Carlos Daniel, who suffered from a bout with the flu, scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in just 23 minutes. Kojo Mensah-Bonsu, a junior transfer who missed WSU's first two exhibitions after two arthroscopic surgeries this fall, played 19 minutes and scored four points.