Cougars look for best start to season since 2007

WSU men’s basketball returns home after earning sixth win of season in championship


JORDAN MAXWELL | Daily Evergreen File

WSU redshirt freshman forward Arinze Chidom blocks Texas Southern’s junior guard Derrick Bruce.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

In a Coliseum not so far, far away, WSU men’s basketball will host “Star Wars” day when they take on University of California, Davis, on Saturday.

The Cougars’ (6-0) first six games have resulted in a Wooden Legacy Championship and an undefeated start to the season. Now, they will return to Beasley Coliseum, and Head Coach Ernie Kent is encouraging students to show up and restore the team’s home court advantage.

“If you build it, they will come,” Kent said, referencing the movie “The Field of Dreams.” “We have built it … The next step is to get the students behind us, because it will allow us to take it to another level.”

With Kent’s young team picking up some impressive wins last weekend, the Cougars have given WSU students more than enough reason to believe their support is vital, Kent said.

The Aggies (4-2) are coming off a five-point win over University of Northern Colorado on Wednesday. They are led by senior forward Chima Moneke, who has posted a double-double in points and rebounds in four of his six starts.

Standing at 6-feet-6-inches, Moneke had 17 points and 16 rebounds against the Bears. He made half of his 16 free throw attempts and shot 33 percent from the field in the game.

UC Davis’ defense has held its opponents to a 26.7 three-point percentage this season, while the Cougars have shot 41.7 from the three-point line.

Kent referred to his team as the “best shooting team I have ever coached, in practice.”

Advancing through the national ranks in three-point shooting, WSU now sits at No. 2 in field goals made per game. Junior forward Robert Franks and sophomore point guard Malachi Flynn have accounted for 32 of the team’s 78 total three-pointers so far this season.

Flynn said he worked on his three-point shooting during the offseason, which helped him trust his ability to knock down a shot from deep this season.

“I think I’ve always had [shooting confidence], its just my shot wasn’t falling at first,” Flynn said. “But my teammates are always giving me confidence to keep shooting, and they fell in the later games.”

With a win against UC Davis, the Cougars would improve to 7-0 and have their best record to begin a season since 2007 when the team started 15-0.

Tipoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. Saturday at Beasley Coliseum. Doors will open at 11 a.m. for fans, and the game will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks.