WSU outmatches Seattle in season opener

Elleby starts season with 27 points against Seattle



Sophomore forward CJ Elleby lays the ball into the net during the game against SU Thursday night at Beasley Coliseum.

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

WSU defeated Seattle University 85-54 after a dominant performance from sophomore forward CJ Elleby.

The last matchup between Seattle University and WSU last season resulted in a win for the Redhawks. This time around, the Cougars returned with a 31-point victory.

Tonight marks WSU head coach Kyle Smith’s first win with WSU. He said he hopes to have more nights like this for the remainder of the season.

“Totally unexpected,” Smith said when asked about Seattle’s performance. “But this team has been working hard.”

Smith said WSU’s main focuses coming into tonight’s game were rebounding, defense and ball control. WSU triumphed over Seattle in each of these categories tonight.

WSU finished with 19 points off 12 Seattle turnovers and kept their own turnovers to only three. WSU outrebounded Seattle 46 to 39 and WSU’s largest lead of the night was 31 points. There were no lead changes throughout.

WSU held Seattle University to 36 percent from the field and one three-pointer. Coach Smith said the Cougar defense will continue to evolve as the season progresses.

Fourteen points from Elleby accounted for nearly half the team’s total in the first half. He finished with a career-high 27 points on 75 percent shooting from the field.

“I’m comfortable out there,” Elleby said. “[My teammates] know I like the ball.”

Elleby was grateful for his point total, but he remains cognizant on the team’s next game. He added how great it is to be back and how excited he is for the new coaching staff this season.

WSU’s newest players made 37 of WSU’s total points. Senior guard Jaylen Shead had 10 points in his first game as a starter for WSU. Junior guard Isaac Bonton’s debut as the starting point guard consisted of 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.

“It’s exciting, I’m excited for our first win,” Bonton said. “We’re trying to create a new culture.”

WSU shot 66 percent from the free-throw line tonight, Smith said this will be a focal point for their next game against Santa Clara. Smith’s former team played against Santa Clara during his three seasons coaching at San Francisco University.

“We’ll get it all cleaned up,” Smith said. “We played pretty well; I don’t want to get nitpicky.”

Smith said he loved the atmosphere the WSU students brought tonight. He said that this is a fun team to watch and the fans should trust their process.

The Cougars will tip-off against Santa Clara University at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Leavey Center, California.