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Men’s basketball looks for third straight win to open season

Cougars came back from halftime deficits in first two games

Junior+guard+Viont%27e+Daniels+shoots+the+ball+against+Seattle+University+on+Wednesday+at+Beasley+Coliseum.
Junior guard Viont'e Daniels shoots the ball against Seattle University on Wednesday at Beasley Coliseum.

Junior guard Viont'e Daniels shoots the ball against Seattle University on Wednesday at Beasley Coliseum.

RYAN PUGH | Daily Evergreen File

RYAN PUGH | Daily Evergreen File

Junior guard Viont'e Daniels shoots the ball against Seattle University on Wednesday at Beasley Coliseum.

AVERY COOPER, Evergreen reporter

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WSU men’s basketball (2-0) won its second game of the season Wednesday against Seattle University and will stay at home for its next game to take on Idaho State University (0-2).

Cougars’ sophomore guard Carter Skaggs had 26 points against the Redhawks and made seven of his eight attempts from three-point range on the night.

“Once I hit the first one,” he said, “I just got into a rhythm and flow and felt super comfortable.”

WSU trailed 31-26 at halftime against Seattle. It was the second time in two games that the Cougars fell behind after 20 minutes of play.

Sophomore guard Malachi Flynn said the team is aware of the pattern and is adjusting to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“We’ve definitely had two slow starts,” he said. “So that’s definitely going to be a priority going into our next game.”

The Cougars’ opponent Saturday are winless and have lost to Arizona State University and Utah Valley University this season.

After the loss against Utah Valley, Idaho State Head Coach Bill Evans said the team needs to be more motivated to get defensive stops.

“We played good for 30 minutes, but you have to play good for 40,” Evans said. “Defensively, we have to get better”

WSU saw the return of redshirt senior forward Drick Bernstine during Wednesday’s game against Seattle. Bernstine had four points and four rebounds in 19 minutes of play.

“I thought he was great,” Head Coach Ernie Kent said. “Our Strength Coach Jason Dudley has gotten Drick into the best shape of his life.”

Sophomore forward Jeff Pollard will not play against the Tigers due to a head injury. He is currently on concussion protocol.

“If everything goes the way we plan,” Kent said, “we will have [Pollard] back on Monday.”

Kent said he is looking forward to having Pollard and Bernstine on the court together.

“When we get Pollard back,” Kent said, “the two of them are going to be very good for us.”

Something the Cougars will continue to utilize against Idaho State is their 1-3-1 zone defense, which Kent implemented in the second half against Texas Southern University. Redshirt freshman forward Arinze Chidom has played a big role in the new defensive scheme, Kent said.

“We have a defense that can cause people some problems,” Kent said. “That 1-3-1 is really good with a 6-foot-9-inch guy with the energy level that Arinze Chidom has out there that can [defend] a 5-foot-7-inch point guard or a 6-foot-9-inch big. He gives you a lot of versatility to disrupt offenses.”

Kent said the team will focus on improving its guard play ahead of its game against Idaho State. He said the guard play is not where it can be or needs to be for the team to be successful the rest of the season.

The Cougars are preparing for the Tigers’ zone defense, Kent said.

“We’ll be working on zone offense, because [Idaho State] is going to play a ton of zone,” he said.

Kent said he wants to get redshirt freshman guard Milan Acquaah and junior guard Kwinton Hinson jumpstarted offensively.

“Those players that I say have been off their games, I’ve got to get them on their game,” Kent said, “because we’ve got a lot more basketball sitting on that bench … and everybody needs to get in rhythm.”

Kent said he hopes to give Hinson more playing time Saturday.

“He has not gotten the minutes that Milan has gotten,” Kent said. “Kwinton needs more minutes, because he’s got a great game in him and he’s that big athletic wing that we have not had.”

WSU will host Idaho State at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Beasley Coliseum. The game will be broadcasted live on Pac-12 Networks.

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