Cougars prepare for second game of season

After winning first game in overtime, team takes on Seattle


JORDAN MAXWELL | Daily Evergreen File

Junior forward Robert Franks goes up for a shot against Texas Southern University on Sunday.

AVERY COOPER, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball (1-0) won its season opener against Texas Southern University in overtime Sunday and will shift its focus to its next opponent, Seattle University (1-1).

Seattle lost its opening game 46-62 to Saint Louis University on Friday. The Redhawks won their second game 121-70 Sunday against University of Puget Sound.

The Cougars were down 18 points at halftime against Texas Southern, but went on a 32-12 run to force overtime and win. Part of the comeback win was due to WSU junior forward Robert Franks, who had a double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs.

WSU Head Coach Ernie Kent said Franks’ production helped the team get the win against Texas Southern.

“He’s a guy that can score,” Kent said. “He shoots it like that all the time, and to be able to rebound like that as well, it’s nice to know that we can get that production out of him.”

Kent implemented a different defensive scheme — a 1-3-1 zone defense — in the second half against Texas Southern to help them in the comeback.

“We are a lot more athletic, and we have a deeper bench, so we put it in this year and it certainly saved us tonight,” Kent said. “It changed the game enough to give us the energy and momentum.”

Seattle set a program record with 121 points against the Loggers. First-year Redhawks Head Coach Jim Hayford said he didn’t think his team would put up that many points, but was proud of their ability to bounce back from a loss.

“I expected us to out-rebound our opponent tonight,” Hayford said, “but we got beat up on the boards against SLU, so for the guys to bring a better mental effort to that tonight was outstanding.”

The Redhawks have two freshmen on the team, and the rest are sophomore and above. One of the most experienced players is graduate guard Richaud Gittens, who scored 26 points in the win against the Loggers. Gittens played at Weber State University for four seasons before transferring to Seattle this year.

Kent said that after a long week of preparing for Texas Southern, a second-half surge and an overtime win, the Cougars will have one big priority when preparing for Seattle.

“I think the biggest thing right now is rest,” Kent said. “To rest their bodies, rest their mental … if we can get them to rest, then we will play a lot better on Wednesday, and even better yet on Saturday, because they can get some game experience and get the jitters out.”

WSU men’s basketball will host Seattle University at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Beasley Coliseum. The game will also be broadcasted live on Pac-12 Networks.