Cougs big winners in season opener

TENTH RANKED Washington State began their 2007-08 as expected, easily dispatching an undermanned Eastern Washington squad, 68-41, in front of 10,215 Cougfans at Friel Court Saturday night. Thus begins Wazzu's quest for a return trip to the NCAA tournament.

The contest was billed as a sellout and, although a noticeable amount of seats were empty, it just may have been the largest crowd to witness a home opener in Pullman. WSU's stingy defensive effort marked the fewest points for a season opener since they held Whitworth to 34 points to start the 1948-49 season.

Typical Cougar basketball was on display as Aron Baynes opened the game with a thunderous dunk after winning the opening tipoff. The Aussie junior led all scorers with 15 points but deflected praise to his teammates, namely All Pac-10 guard Kyle Weaver.


"You know how it is for us big man down in the post," Baynes said. "You got to keep your hands up because he's gonna hit you in the chest or in the nose if you don't. He's great…offensive minded. He sees things before they even come. He'll tell you where he wants you, which is good. As long as you get to where he wants and put your hands up, you'll get a couple of easy baskets."

Weaver was in his standard form, tallying seven assists, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3 steals, and 7 points. Fellow All Pac-10 teammate Derrick Low contributed 14 points, while forward Robbie Cowgill recorded 13 points and 7 boards.

After a turnover laden display in the exhibition game against Lewis & Clark State last week, head coach Tony Bennett was obviously pleased with the way the team came out tonight.

"For a first step, I thought it was good," Bennett said. "They were ready to play. It was a nice atmosphere and it was time to play another team. Every college team right now wants to play someone other than themselves. That part was important."

The atmosphere at Friel Court was indeed a sign that this town is ready for college basketball to start. The crowd of 10,215 was ready to greet the team warmly, with Bennett receiving the loudest ovation when the teams were introduced.

The Eagles only dressed seven players, as five others are either ineligible or awaiting NCAA ruling. The lack of depth had an obvious affect on the team, as WSU used a large rotation of backups.

Eastern also hurt themselves by allowing the Cougs to shoot 50 percent while shooting just 29.5 percent themselves.


- Low gained some forearm muscle over the summer, and likes to show it off, according to his head coach. "He's absolutely right," Low joked after the game.

- With 5:07 remaining, Bennett sent in his reserve players as the game was very much out of reach. Freshman Stephen Sauls made his first collegiate basket, a three pointer to make the score 68-39 with 1:37 remaining.

- Bennett said he still hasn't come to a decision on to redshirt Abe Lodwick or not. Lodwick suited up for the game but did not play. Bennett said the decision is ultimately up to the player. If Lodwick decided not to sit out a year, playing time would come at a premium because of this veteran team.

- Eastern Washington had two players from Serbia on the team. Before subbing in, Nikola Koprivica was seen talking to one by the scorers table. No indication on what language they were speaking.

- WSU women's basketball fell to Portland today, 70-40, in June Daugherty's debut as head coach.

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