It was often sloppy, as most undercards are, but Washington State was never really in danger of losing its season-opening basketball game against Boise State.
Not with Ike Fontaine open on the wing, if only for a second.
“You do a nice job for a long time,” BSU coach Rod Jensen attested Saturday afternoon, “and then you lose him for a second and, boy, he just puts the knife in you and turns it.”
The knife, as Jensen put it, was a 3-pointer from the right wing with 1:15 remaining. It put the Cougars ahead for keeps in what would become a 74-69 victory before just 1,999 at Friel Court.
The win was WSU’s eighth straight in a season opener and came just a couple of hours prior to the day’s main event - the 89th renewal of the Apple Cup football rivalry between the Cougars and Washington - which was played just across the street in Martin Stadium.
Fontaine finished with 16 points, five rebounds, five turnovers and four assists. He played 34 minutes, a significant figure considering the 6-4 shooting guard was running a temperature of 101 less than 24 hours prior.
“I’m feeling a lot better,” he said afterward. Forward Carlos Daniel led the Cougars with 20 points and seven rebounds, but also committed five turnovers.
“They played great defense,” Daniel said. “They pressured the ball and played hard.”
Freshman point guard Blake Pengelly earned the start for WSU, but deferred to senior Kareem Jackson in the game’s most critical stages.
Pengelly finished with seven points, one assist and two turnovers in 19 minutes. Jackson played the remaining 21 minutes, enough time to match Fontaine for the team lead in assists.
“Kareem Jackson was easily the most underrated player in today’s game,” WSU coach Kevin Eastman said. “He did such a good job of switching (defensively).”
BSU overplayed the passing lanes, in part explaining how it was possible for WSU to make 25 of 37 field goals while being harried into 20 turnovers.
WSU freshman wing Chris Crosby added 12 points and three assists, while senior forward Tavares Mack had 11 points and five boards.
J.D. Huleen led Boise with 23 points.
WSU’s next game is Tuesday night at 7 against Seattle Pacific, also at Friel.
WSU 74, Boise State 69
BOISE STATE (69)
Huleen 6-14 10-13 23, Tolman 5-11 0-0 14, Van Kirk 0-1 0-0 0, Wyatt 6-15 2-2 17, Washington 2-3 0-0 5, Bergersen 1-7 0-0 2, Shephard 1-1 0-0 2, Harman 2-4 0-0 4, Norman 0-0 0-0 0, Fox 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 24-58 12-15 69.
WASHINGTON STATE (74) Daniel 6-7 8-11 20, Crosby 4-7 2-2 12, Mack 4-5 3-6 11, Fontaine 5-9 3-5 16, Pengelly 2-2 2-2 7, Jackson 1-2 0-0 2, Archibald 2-4 0-1 4, Johnson 1-1 0-0 2, Slotemaker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-37 18-27 74.
Halftime-Washington St 41, Boise St 35. 3-point goals-Boise St 9-26 (Huleen 1-5, Tolman 4-6, Wyatt 3-7, Washington 1-1, Bergersen 0-5, Hagman 0-2). Washington St 6-10 (Crosby 2-4, Fontaine 3-4, Pengelly 1-1, Archibald 0-1). Fouled out-Hagman. Rebounds-Boise St 25 (Tolman 6), Washington St 29 (Daniel 7). Assists-Boise St 14 (Washington 6), Washington St 13 (Fontaine, Jackson 4). Total Fouls-Boise St 24, Washington St 17. A-1,999.
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