Men’s basketball opens up a blowout win on Christmas morning

From staff reports

An 8 a.m. local time tip-off couldn’t keep the energy of the Washington State men’s basketball team down, as New Mexico never led Friday morning in the seventh place game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

Despite sitting out most of the first half in foul trouble, junior forward Josh Hawkinson led the Cougars (8-4) to their first and only victory in the three-game tournament in Honolulu, an 82-59 win over the Lobos (7-6).

Hawkinson recorded his seventh straight double-double – ninth of the season – by posting game-highs in points (19) and rebounds (10). Because he picked up back-to-back fouls before the 12-minute mark of the first half, Hawkinson’s playing time was limited, and as a result he went into halftime with just four points and two rebounds.

In Hawkinson’s absence, junior center Valentine Izundu picked up the slack on the offensive end for the Cougs. Mostly utilized by Head Coach Ernie Kent this season for his shot blocking ability, averaging 3.2 per game this season, Izundu tied his career high in points with 10, nine of which came in the first half. Izundu also blocked two shots and pulled down three rebounds.

Junior guard Ike Iroegbu led the Cougar sharpshooters by going 3-5 from behind the arc to score 17 points and push his average for the tournament to 15 per game. As a whole, the Cougars shot 11-20 (55 percent) from 3-point range against a Lobos team that entered the Diamond Head Classic as one of the top 3-point defenses in the country.

Junior forward Tim Williams led the Lobos in scoring, however, the 6-foot, 8-inch post who averages eight rebounds per contest pulled down just one board.

The Cougars went on a 17-2 run starting at the 14:26 mark of the second half that put them up 63-46, which more or less put the game out of reach for UNM. Hawkinson scored 10 points during that 4-minute-long stretch.

WSU will get some time to recuperate after playing four games in three days in Hawaii as it opens Pac-12 play at home against USC at 6 p.m. Friday, in the Cougars’ first of three home games to begin the conference schedule. The Pac-12 Networks will broadcast the game.

Reporting by Dustin Brennan