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WSU MBB starts slow then finishes strong

PULLMAN - Washington State men's basketball overcame a sluggish beginning to their exhibition game rallying to defeat Carroll College in Beasley Coliseum Sunday. Wazzu freshman guard Malachi Flynn made his first college start running the offense and put up nice stats in 33-minutes of play.

WSU coach Ernie Kent felt his crew was, in his view, playing through jitters. But the Cougs were not to be denied on their home court. After trailing 35-26 at the half, Washington State rebounded with a 52-point second half to outscore their opponent 78-70.

"I thought these guys were really nervous, jittery in the first 20-minutes of the game," Kent said during post game comments.

The flat, slow start by WSU was forgotten after halftime thanks to a relatively easy adjustment in the locker room during intermission.

"I didn't think they were communicating defensively in the first half. We told them at halftime they were way to quiet which told me, I wouldn't use the words 'intimidated' because you shouldn’t be intimidated at home, but just the nervousness they've got to work through some things," Kent explained.

He would later go on to say how proud of the team he was in their ability to recognize, and overcome this adversity against the Saints who outperformed WSU's shooters in the first half of play. WSU ended the night converting 26 of 57 shots to Carroll's 22 of 58.

Kent said the offense became more vocal in the second half, with improved energy and focus.

Malachi Flynn, the freshmen point guard making his first college start felt it was a great atmosphere to play in Beasley. Flynn dished out three assists and was the second leading scorer for Wazzu with 12-points.

"Just trying to stay focused, not trying to let my mind wonder," said Flynn who was excited to get his first start in a crimson and gray uniform. "Just come out and play hard," was Flynn's description of how he wants to contribute to this team.   

"We came out flat. I wouldn't necessarily say not ready to play, but we weren’t focused and we weren’t talking on defense, so really just energy." junior guard Darrien King said after the win.

Following the game WSU players King, Ike Iroegbu , and Flynn met briefly with media to talk about getting an exhibition win to begin their season.

Senior Josh Hawkinson picked up right where he left off last season by notching a double-double. Hawkinson totaled 13-points on 4 of 14 shooting while leading WSU with 13 boards. Typical of his play the past two years, he lead the team in playing time with 34-minutes on the floor.

Here's the box score from Sunday night's exhibition game:

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