Men’s basketball climb over the Highlanders

Cougars force season-high twenty-three turnovers against the Highlanders



Sophomore forward Aljaz Kunc jumps up for the ball against SU on Nov. 7 at Beasley Coliseum.

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

The WSU men’s basketball team defeated the UC Riverside Highlanders 70-56 this Sunday at Beasley Coliseum in their first game in the six-game home stretch.

Four different players from WSU (6-4, 0-0) scored in double figures against UC Riverside (7-4, 0-0). Both senior forward Jeff Pollard and sophomore forward Aljaž Kunc tied their season highs in points with 16 and 13, respectively.

UC Riverside’s head coach David Patrick used to be the assistant coach at Saint Mary’s University alongside WSU head coach Kyle Smith from 2006 to 2010.

Junior guard Isaac Bonton returned to the starting lineup after playing off the bench the past two games. He finished with 12 points on 5 for 15 shooting.

WSU lead at halftime 27-24, which marks a new first half low for the Cougars. For the first time this season, Kunc lead the Cougars in points in the first half with six points.

WSU’s defense forced 23 turnovers against UC Riverside. This is the most from UC Riverside and the most from any WSU opponent this season. This is the fourth time that the Cougars forced their opponent to at least 20 turnovers.

The Cougars held a 10-point lead at the 16-minute mark of the second half, but the Highlanders’ 10-0 run in the following two minutes tied the game at 35. WSU then went on a 15-2 run to push the Cougars’ lead to 13 points.

Sophomore forward CJ Elleby, Bonton, and Pollard scored 14 points collectively during this run, with Kunc scoring the leftover point from the free throw line. WSU finished the game shooting 83 percent from the free throw line, a new season high for the team. Following the run, WSU led UC Riverside by double-digits for the rest of the contest.

UC Riverside’s season leading scorer, sophomore center Callum McRae, had two points in the first half and totaled four points for the entire game. WSU now leads its all time record against UC Riverside at 2-1.

WSU will face the Florida A&M Rattlers at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Beasley Coliseum, and the game will air on Pac-12 Networks.