Cougs soar past Rider

WSU knocks down 39 free throws in victory, Cannon notches career high in points



Junior forward Robert Franks dunks the ball during the game against Utah on Feb. 17 at Beasley Coliseum.

ISAAC SEMMLER, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball bounced back from a disappointing loss to Montana State last week with a 94-80 victory over Rider University on Monday night.

“It was a good win because [Rider] forces you to keep focused and keep putting them away … throughout the course of a 40 minute game,” WSU Head Coach Ernie Kent said. “That’s exactly the type of competition we needed right now.”

WSU played without senior guard Viont’e Daniels, who was kept out with a concussion.

The Cougars (6-3) and Broncs (4-4) both failed to find an offensive groove early. In the first six minutes of play, Rider shot just 4-13 from the field and 1-6 beyond the three-point line while WSU knocked down 5-10 of its attempts.

WSU Head Coach Ernie Kent mixed up the starting lineup and changed his defensive approach trapping on inbound passes early on and playing zone defense to protect the paint, something the Cougars failed to do in their last contest.

Senior forward Robert Franks continued to lead the way for the Cougars on both sides of the ball. He led the team through 10 minutes of action with 12 points and two rebounds.

Halfway through the first half, Kent stuck with three forwards down low to protect the post. Rider used that approach to take advantage of the three-pointer and knock down a pair of them to force a momentum change in a matter of seconds.

However, a sudden spark from the Broncs offense and a promising 22-15 lead with 10 minutes left in the first half would quickly disappear. WSU answered back with a 23-2 run to take a 38-24 with just under four minutes remaining in the half.

By the end of the first half, the Cougars led 45-35 against the Broncs.

The start of the second half began with a bang for WSU as sophomore small forward Marvin Cannon drove down the lane and leaped at the basket for a monster dunk. This paved the way for an 11-0 run for the Cougars in the first three minutes of play.

Eventually, Rider began to play more aggressive basketball attacking the rim instead of relying on the three-point shot, reducing a 20-point deficit to 13 with plenty of time left in the game.

Broncs sophomore guard Jordan Allen remained a threat from beyond the arc knocking down six three-pointers, yet the rest of the Broncs lacked any sort of offensive rhythm shooting a mere 39 percent through 10 minutes of the second half.

Rider would go on an 11-2 run and eventually cut the Cougars lead down to seven points with just under three minutes remaining. However, WSU sealed the victory by knocking down 11 free throws late in the game.

Franks finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds and five assists while Cannon had a career high 23 points, knocking down 15 free throws. Freshman forward CJ Elleby added 18 points and seven rebounds.

The Cougars ended the night shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 35 percent from behind the three-point line.

WSU returns to the court 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to take on SIU Edwardsville at Beasley Coliseum. The game can also be seen live on Pac-12 Networks.