GEORGE RODRIGUEZ | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE
A battle took place on the basketball court as the neighboring Idaho Vandals traveled across the border to face WSU men’s basketball Wednesday in Beasley Coliseum. After losing to Idaho 91-64 last season, WSU came back this year by taking a 90-70 victory.
“They’ve beaten us three out of the last four times so it’s a big significance for us,” Head Coach Ernie Kent said. “It’s a good rival game to have. It’s good for the people, I think, that they’ve grown up in this area.”
The Vandals (3-5) won the tipoff, scoring an opening banked-in three-pointer to start. WSU (5-2) quickly tied it up with a layup and a free throw within the first minute of play. Despite these early scores, the two teams stayed low in baskets throughout the first five minutes as the Cougars led the Vandals 9-7.
A lot of missed baskets caused the score to be tied at 11 with 12 minutes remaining in the first half. The Vandals were up able to grab a 26-23 lead with six minutes remaining as the Cougars were shooting 38 percent from the field compared to the Vandals’ 50 percent.
WSU took the lead less than a minute later as the teams battled for the halftime lead, which the Cougars took with a score of 45-40. Leading the half for WSU was freshman forward CJ Elleby with 11 points while Vandals sophomore guard Geno West had nine.
To start the second half, Elleby scored a layup which was followed by a timeout by Idaho. WSU senior forward Robert Franks Jr. would score a layup and two free throws after the timeout to increase the Cougars’ lead to 51-40.
Junior point guard Jervae Robinson scored a layup of his own and Elleby followed with a basket and a free throw, making the score 56-40 in favor of the Cougars. The Vandals didn’t score until nearly four minutes into the second half when junior guard Marquell Fraser hit a basket from within the paint.
WSU then sharpened its claws and continued to increase its lead over the next 10 minutes, making the score 84-64 in its favor with under four minutes left in the game. The Cougars ultimately closed out the game with a 90-70 win over the Vandals.
Franks said he thought the team got off to a slow start, but as the game continued the Cougars found their rhythm.
“We just wanted to up our intensity,” he said. “We felt like we came out a little flat in the first half and we had more to give. Their zone kind of slowed us down, and once we started getting stops and getting running it was kind of back to Cougar basketball.”
Franks led the team, scoring 22 points while shooting 53.3 percent from the field. Elleby finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and a field goal percentage of 50 percent.
WSU will travel to face Montana State at 4 p.m. Sunday in Kennewick, Washington. The game can also be seen live on Pac-12 Networks.