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Regional Rivalry Renews With Eastern Washington

Nov 27, 2020

2020 21 WSU MBB Notes 02 EWU

vs Eastern Washington (0-0) | Sat., Nov. 28 | 8 p.m.
  Live Stats | Sidearm Stats
  Watch | Pac-12 Network (Greg Heister & Dan Dickau)
  Listen | WSU IMG Radio Network (Matt Chazanow & Craig Ehlo)

> WSU picked up a season-opening, 56-52, win over Texas Southern Wednesday night to pick up the 98th opening win in program history.
> The Cougs face off against Eastern Washington Saturday (the Eagles season opener), for the first time since 2012. The two teams have met in preseason exhibition throughout the last decade including last year when the Cougs beat the Eagles, 96-75, at Cheney.
> Isaac Bonton shook off a rusty first half to finish the opening contest with 28 points including hitting 11-of-13 from the line. Bonton scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half.  The 28 points was his second-best career scoring effort.
> One of the youngest teams in the country, the Cougs have just four upperclassmen (2 seniors, 2 juniors). In addition, the Cougs are one of the most diverse teams in the country with players from 11 different states or countries.
> WSU saw strong efforts out of its youth with freshman Efe Abogidi posting 9 points (all in the first half), eight rebounds and one block while sophomore DJ Rodman tied a career-best with eight points and sophomore Ryan Rapp set career-bests in minutes (24), rebounds (6), assists (3), and blocks (1).

The Cougs take on regional rival Eastern Washington in the regular season for the first time since 2012. WSU is riding a five-game win streak in the 66-game series which dates back to 1907. While the two teams haven't met in the regular season in nearly a decade the two have faced off in preseason scrimmages including last season with WSU taking a 96-75 win at Cheney. Overall the Cougs are 55-11 all-time against their regional rival from Cheney including having lost just twice since 1952. The last loss came in 1997 when the Eagles squeaked out an 83-82 win in the Tri-Cities.
Saturday's matchup is the season opener for the Eagles who had to postpone their scheduled Wednesday contest due to Covid concerns. The Eagles were picked to repeat as Big Sky champs after coming off their most successful season in program history with 23 wins. Jacob Davison was selected as the preseason MVP as joined junior Kim Aiken Jr. on the six-person preseason All-Big Sky team.

WSU 56 - TSU 52 | Nov. 25, 2020 | Pullman, WA

Down three at half, the Cougs rallied in the second half behind 21 points from Isaac Bonton (28 total) to grab a season-opening win over Texas Southern Wednesday. Bonton's big half shook off a tough offensive night for the Cougs who shot just 28% from the floor but did hit 23-of-32 from the line including a perfect 9-for-9 night from Aljaz Kunc. The win was the fourth-straight for WSU over TSU all-time.

In the opening game of the 2020 season, senior Isaac Bonton showed that he is ready to lead as the gunner put the Cougs on his shoulders scoring 28 points to take down Texas Southern. The 28 points were 50% of the Cougs scoring in the game while he scored 21 of 28 points for WSU in the second half. The 28 points were the second-most for Bonton in his career while the 21 points in the half would tie for his fourth best scoring effort in its own right. The 28 points was the 9th best scoring mark to open the season in DI and best in the Pac-12 on Wednesday night.
Bonton struggled shooting in the first half but kept his rhythm at the line finishing the half 4-for-4 and the game 11-for-13. 

Taking advantage of the freebies, the Cougs were one of the best at the line in 2019-20.
In one game the Cougs picked back up where they left off going 23-of-32 (74.3%) from the line. Isaac Bonton, the Cougs top FT shooter last season, finished the game 11-of-13, one shy of a career-best FTA while Aljaz Kunc had a career game going 9-for-9. 

While it was only one game, the Cougs appear to have a budding star on their hands in big man Efe Abogidi as the freshman earned his first start and just missed out on a double-double in his collegiate debut posting 9 pts, 8 rbds in 20 min. of action, only missing out due to foul trouble. In the first half, Abogidi was a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor and showed off his range hitting one deep two and a three from the top of the key.

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