WSU downs Delaware State with second half surge

Cougars grab 80-52 victory over Hornets for third win of season



Senior guard Viont’e Daniels shoots a three-pointer in the game against Delaware State University on Saturday night in Beasley Coliseum.

ISAAC SEMMLER, Evergreen reporter

What looked like a close game in the first half turned out to be a one-sided affair as WSU men’s basketball swatted the Delaware State University Hornets out of Pullman on Saturday, defeating them by a score of 80-52.

The Cougars got off to a slow start, shooting about 22 percent inside the paint and only making one of seven attempts beyond the arc in the first six minutes of action. What little offense they had came from senior guard Viont’e Daniels who scored five of WSU’s seven points.

Head Coach Ernie Kent felt that his team did not perform well throughout the first half.

“We were really stuck in second gear and a lot of that had to do with just too much one on one basketball,” Kent said. “It knocked ourselves out of rhythm offensively and I didn’t think we did a very good job defensively, we were not rebounding the ball.”

Despite WSU’s struggles at the basket, Delaware State wasn’t doing much better, shooting about 24 percent from inside the paint and hitting just one of its four three-point attempts.

The Hornets controlled rebounds on both sides of the ball but were continuously stung by senior forward Robert Franks’ defense as he picked up four defensive rebounds, one block and contested every shot inside the paint while staying out of foul trouble through 10 minutes of action.

Though WSU struggled on offense for the majority of the first half, junior guard Ahmed Ali stepped up with just a few minutes left, picking up two quick baskets and a three-pointer near half court to spark the Cougars and move the momentum back into their hands.

Luckily for WSU, Delaware State continued to lack in offensive production, finishing the half shooting 13-45, about 29 percent, and 2-12 beyond the three point line, just under 17 percent. The Cougars nearly mirrored the Hornets’ performance, however, shooting 11-29, about 38 percent, and 4-14 beyond the arc, just under 29 percent.

Unlike their previous performances this year, the Cougars found themselves turning the ball over seven times in the first half with more than half of those coming from starters.

At the end of the first half, it was a low scoring game as WSU led Delaware State by a score of 35-30.

The start of the second half proved to be a different story for the Cougars as they started off shooting 3-5 from the field and 1-1 behind the three-point line within two minutes, taking a 12-point advantage over a Hornets team that continued to underperform on both sides of the ball.

Kent’s approach changed and he began to trap the opposing players rather than running a zone defense. This limited Delaware State to just two points in as much as five minutes as the Hornets shot about 14.3 percent, lacking any sort of rhythm during the entirety of both halves.

After 10 minutes of play in the second half, it became evident WSU would come away with the win. Franks paved the rest of the way, finishing the night with 24 points and 11 rebounds, allowing the team to wipe out any hope for victory Delaware State had left.

Franks said that words from Kent at half time motivated the team to take control in the second half.

“Coach Kent gave us a very motivating speech at half time. He told us ‘You guys are better than what you are doing right now so you guys need to pick it up,’ ” Franks said. “We took pride in it and it started on defense, everyone wanted to get down in a defensive stance and switch and show everybody in this arena what we’re made of.”

The Cougars will now look to improve to 4-1 as they take on California State University, Northridge, at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Beasley Coliseum. The game can also be seen live on Pac-12 Networks.