Washington State turns back Idaho State 85-67
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) Valentine Izundu struggled to find playing time with the Houston Cougars, but he may find himself working overtime with the Washington State Cougars.
Izundu, a junior transfer from Houston, energized teammates and fans alike with a career-high six blocked shots Friday night in WSU's 85-67 triumph over Idaho State.
Izundu, playing 23 minutes off the bench, also had career highs of 10 points - mostly on thunderous dunks - and seven rebounds. Ike Iroebu led the Cougars (2-0) with a career-high 21 points, and Josh Hawkinson recorded 19 points and 14 rebounds at Beasley Coliseum.
''I think Valentine's a player that, the more he plays, the more confident he'll get, the more you'll see in his game,'' Washington State coach Ernie Kent said. ''He's a tremendous athlete and shot blocker.''
''I just knew I was going to play good,'' Izundu said. ''I had a good practice all week.''
Ali Faruq-Bey led Idaho State (2-1) with 19 points. Ethan Telfair, the brother of former NBA player Sebastian Telfair, added 15 points and Geno Luzcando 14.
Valentine and Hawkinson helped Washington State dominate inside after the Cougars fired 18 3-pointers (making only six) in the first half.
''They were bigger and stronger than us,'' Idaho State coach Bill Evans said.
Iroegbu, splitting time between point guard and shooting guard, penetrated inside and wound up sinking 10 of 12 free throws. He also had seven assists and six rebounds.
The Bengals never led after the opening minutes, but they trailed only 44-37 at the half before their 3-point shooting cooled off in the final half.
''We're shooting too many 3's,'' Evans said. ''I think we're a good shooting team, but you can't live and die from there.
''We've got to do a better job of attacking the basket, maybe making the extra pass to get what we want.''
Washington State shot 48.3 percent from the field and held Idaho State to 34.3 percent. The Cougars outrebounded ISU 49-35 before 2,662 fans.
Kent said he was impressed with the inexperienced Bengals.
''They played really hard,'' Kent said. ''What they forced us to do was to toughen up, get better defensively, blocked out tougher, be more accountable for 3-point shooters.''
The Bengals sank 10 of 31 shots from 3-point range, including just 4 of 15 after halftime. The Cougars wound up 8 for 26 on 3's.
Back-to-back baskets by Novak Topalovic narrowed WSU's lead to 50-45 before the Cougars pulled away with a 9-1 spurt. Hawkinson scored seven of the points, and Izundu's dunk accounted for the other two.
''He (Izundu) can change the game,'' Evans said.
''We grew up during the course of the game,'' Kent said. ''It's exactly the kind of game we needed that continues to get us ready for better games, tougher opponents.''
Idaho State: The Bengals, who lost key players off a 7-23 team, were picked to finish last (12th) in the Big Sky Conference in preseason polls for coaches and media. Washington State came in last (12th) in the lone preseason poll (for media) in the Pac-12 Conference.
Washington State: Hawkinson, who set a school record with 20 double-doubles last season, has recorded a double-double in each game this season.
LONG LOSING STREAK
Idaho State, a Big Sky Conference team, has lost 23 consecutive games to current members of the Pac-12 Conference. The losing streak dates back to a 62-57 win at Oregon on Dec. 3, 1986.
Idaho State at Denver on Wednesday.
Cal State-Los Angeles at Washington State on Tuesday.