HOOPS: Cougs turn slow start into runaway win

PULLMAN- Coming off finals week, the Cougar mens’ basketball team faced one last exam before Christmas: a matchup against beleaguered San Jose State. And for a while there, it felt like Washington State might not achieve a passing grade. But after an uneven start, the Cougars ended up acing their final exam with a 82-53 win against the Spartans.

San Jose State (2-10) suited up only seven players against Washington State after five players -- including the team's top four scorers – were suspended back on Dec. 13.

But SJSU started the game strong on the Cougs' home court, and Washington State (5-6) lacked energy on both ends. SJSU held a 15-11 lead with 13:30 left in the first half.

It took the Cougs about 10 minutes to get going and although there were some sloppy play here and there the rest of the way, once the Cougs picked up the pace and took advantage of SJSU’s lack of depth, it was all over.

Down 15-11, WSU went on an 11-0 run and once San Jose State began to show signs of fatigue, the Cougs were never seriously challenged again. WSU sophomore forward Josh Hawkinson sparked the decisive Cougar run and was again the star of the show, finishing with yet another another double-double.

Hawkinson led all scorers with 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds -- his sixth double-double of the season.

Hawkinson picked up two quick fouls in the first five minutes of the game but came back in when the Cougs still trailed. He played aggressive ball and finished the half with 15 points, helping the Cougars take a 47-31 lead at the break.

Hawkinson was the story on the night but redshirt sophomore Que Johnson added a worthy sidebar.

Johnson has struggled this season but on Sunday, he chipped in seven points including a rim-rattling dunk that seemed to get him going. It was the most points Johnson had scored since also posting seven against Idaho on Dec. 3.
Ernie Kent went to his bench early with the Cougs trailing. But once the Cougs got the lead, he kept on subbing 'em in and out. He ended up giving 12 players minutes in the first half.

In particular, freshman point guard Trevor Dunbar got a lot of court time. After not playing against Gonzaga and seeing two minutes of action against Santa Clara last week, Dunbar saw 30 minutes of floor time against the Spartans.

Dunbar pushed the ball hard all night and got the Cougs running. Dunbar finished with five points, three assists and two steals.

Redshirt senior center Jordan Railey also saw his minutes increase -- he logged 27 and had his best offensive performance of the season. He shot four of six from the field, was a perfect four-of-four from the free throw line. He finished with 12 points.

Kent’s use of depth tonight against San Jose State led to 34 points from the bench while the Spartans had just five.

The Cougars will wrap up their non-conference schedule on Sunday, Dec. 28 at home against UC Davis.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • WSU Starting lineup: Ny Redding, Ike Iroegbu, DaVonte Lacy, Junior Longrus and Josh Hawkinson.
  • Lacy finished with 14 points and moved into sole possession of sixth place on WSU’s career made three-point list with 209. He was 1-of-3 from downtown on Sunday.
  • Senior Jordan Railey had a season-high 12 points.
  • The Cougars dished out 18 assists and their season high with 31 made field goals.
  • WSU got 34 points from their bench.


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