Elleby’s career night leads WSU past CSUN 103-94

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Freshman CJ Elleby scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds with four assists as Washington State beat Cal State Northridge 103-94 on Tuesday night.

Robert Franks added 22 points and seven rebounds for Washington State (4-1). Viont’e Daniels had 14 points, going 4-8 from 3-point range.

Elleby was the spark WSU needed with Franks scoring a season-low 22 points. He energized the Cougars with two blocks and provided easy buckets in transition.

“It was real fun and I felt like we were in a good rhythm as a team and when I got the shots up, they felt great,” said Elleby.

After WSU’s last game against Delaware State, coach Ernie Kent mentioned too much one-on-one play and bad shot selection from his team. The message from Kent carried over with a clear emphasis on getting the ball inside and sharing the ball early in the first half.

WSU shot 51 percent from the field and assisted on 27 of their 36 made shots.

“Twenty-seven assists is hard to do at this level so I was proud of them for doing that,” said WSU coach Ernie Kent. “Yet as a coach I saw 35 assists out on the floor because I thought we got a little bit careless with the last 10 minutes of the game.”

Lamine Diane had a double-double in the first half and finished with 32 points and 18 rebounds for Cal State Northridge (1-4). Darius Brown II scored 25 points with six assists and Rodney Henderson Jr. added 16 points. Diane played with four fouls for most of the second half and fouled out in the final minutes. The combination of Diane, Brown and Henderson helped keep the Matadors in the game late, but no other players scored in double figures.

WSU went on an 8-2 run to end the first half on a fast-break dunk from Elleby and two 3s, one from Viont’e Daniels and another from Elleby at the buzzer. It gave the Cougars an 18-point lead at the half 54-36.

Franks was fouled hard on a dunk attempt and hit the floor. He made both free throws but headed to the bench to be evaluated. In his absence, WSU went on an 8-0 run over 1:27 with 3-pointers from Daniels and Carter Skaggs for a 20-point lead. The Matadors went 1 for 14 during the stretch.

CSUN cut the lead to eight in the last minute after forcing a turnover in the backcourt and converting a layup. The Matadors would make seven of their last nine shots with Brown scoring the last 11 points down the stretch, but the deficit was too much to overcome. Franks hit two free throws on the next possession, followed by a steal and an easy layup to close the game.

“I just felt like we could have closed out the game a lot better and sometimes you get a big lead like that, you lose your focus,” said Kent. “I felt like we broke down mentally and we will take the win for what it is.”

Each team attempted at least 70 field goals, with 79 from CSUN.

Ahmed Ali’s layup in the closing seconds put Washington State over the century mark for the first time in regulation since March 2, 2002 against Centenary.

INJURIES

The Cougars played without junior Isaiah Wade for the second straight contest. Wade is WSU’s second-leading scorer at 13 points per game.

BIG PICTURE

Cal State Northridge: Being handed their fourth loss on the season, the Matadors need a win.

Washington State: The Cougars have won four in a row at home but go back on the road where they have their only loss on the season. It will be the first time on the season WSU leaves the state of Washington.

UP NEXT

Cal State Northridge plays Sacramento State on Saturday.

Washington State plays New Mexico State on Saturday.