Hawkinson’s Big Game Lifts WSU in Exhibition Win

PULLMAN, Wash. – Sophomore Josh Hawkinson had a breakout performance, leading Washington State University men’s basketball with a double-double of 24 points and 18 rebounds, as the Cougars defeated fellow Cougars of Azusa Pacific, 88-74, Friday in exhibition action at Beasley Coliseum in the WSU coaching debut of Ernie Kent.

Hawkinson was a perfect 2-for-2 from beyond the arc and stretched Azusa Pacific defensively with a shot combination featuring tries from under the basket, and deep in the field. He was 10-for-11 overall from the field and added a big block in the second half.

“My teammates did a really good job with sharing the ball and passing to me when I was open, and fortunately I was able to knock down open shots,” Hawkinson said.

Senior DaVonté Lacy had 22 points to go along with his momentum-swinging steal and hit three 3-pointers. Seventeen of Lacy’s points came in the second half, including all five of his free throws.

WSU shot 31 free throws, but struggled from the line, converting 19-of-31 for 61.3 percent. APU shot just 18 free throws on the night, making 10 for 55.6 percent.

The visiting Cougars fought back with guards Troy Leaf and Robert Sandoval. Leaf scored 19 points for Azusa Pacific to lead all visiting Cougar scorers. Sandoval contributed 17 of his own points, and the two guards combined to bring down nine of APU’s 31 rebounds.

Azusa Pacific took its first lead of the game on its first possession of the second half, a 41-39 advantage off a 3 by Sandoval. After a back-and-fourth half, a head’s up steal by Lacy led to a mini-run by WSU, forcing an APU timeout with just under 14 minutes to play and the home team leading, 53-45.

“We were coming out in the second half focused on our defense,” Lacy said. “When we get stops it helps us get out in transition, get runs, and get to the basket and get fouled.”

APU cut into the lead once again, getting within 2 points at the 9:45 mark, but an 8-2 run, gave the home Cougars a 66-58 advantage at the eight-minute mark. WSU reached its largest lead of the game, 15 points, with one minute to go in the game, finishing with an 88-74 victory.

Washington State never trailed in the fast-paced first half, but the game was tied for nearly four minutes and Azusa Pacific trailed by just one point at the end of the half, 39-38. Hawkinson, who has never scored more than 6 points in a regular season game, led the Cougars with 12 points and 8 rebounds, 2 more than he’s ever grabbed in a regular season game, in the first half alone.

Three newcomers saw action in the first half, including junior college transfer Aaron Cheatum, and freshmen Ny Redding and Trevor Dunbar. Redding scored 3 points on a make from the field and a free throw. Cheatum scored 2 points on a second half make, and Dunbar added 1 point in the first half with a free throw. WSU’s leading scorer from 2013-14, Lacy, scored just 5 points in the first 20 minutes as he was 2-for-6 from the field. He got his first bucket at the 14:23 mark.

Sandoval led Azusa Pacific with 12 points in the first half off 4-for-7 shooting from the field. Eight different vising Cougars scored in the first half.

Washington State opens up the regular season in Texas as it takes on UTEP at El Paso, Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. PT followed by a trip to Fort Worth to take on TCU, Monday, Nov. 17.

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