WSU forced 21 turnovers against Santa Clara, 20 against both Idaho State and Colorado State, and Smith’s team kept the trend going on Sunday against UC Riverside, forcing the Highlanders into 23 turnovers during a 70-56 win for the Cougars at Beasley Coliseum in front of a small winter break crowd that numbered just 1,999.
The game’s final pass went deep beyond the defensive pressure to CJ Elleby, all alone in the frontcourt with but a few unimpeded steps between himself and the ritualistic exclamation-point dunk.
Elleby fired in a game-high 20 points after a slow start, and WSU (5-4) collected a nonconference win against the Aggies (5-5) in its annual trip to Spokane.
Their rotation shortened because of illness and their top scorer battling offensive inconsistency, the Cougars turned to an unlikely source in the Battle of the Palouse. Tony Miller showed up early, he showed up often, and the well-traveled walk-on forward provided a spark for the Cougars in a comfortable 78-65 win over Idaho at the Cowan Spectrum.
Miller, who averaged 3.2 points per game entering the night, was 6-of-7 shooting, and made 6-of-8 free throws.
The Colorado State graduate transfer posted on his Twitter account Wednesday morning that he’s been diagnosed with a heart condition called myocarditis and will “miss 3-6 months of basketball.” Even if James recovers in three months, it may not enough to return for the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, which begins on March 11.
Adam Thistlewood made five 3-pointers and finished with 20 points, Nico Carvacho had 16 points and 14 rebounds and Colorado State beat Washington State 79-69 in the fifth-place game of the Cayman Islands Classic.
CJ Elleby scored 21 points and Marvin Cannon had 10 of his 14 in the second half on Tuesday night when Washington State took control to defeat Old Dominion 66-50 in the consolation bracket of the Cayman Islands Classic.
Haanif Cheatham scored 19 points and Jervay Green scored 14 and Nebraska pulled away for an 82-71 win over Washington State in the Cayman Islands Classic.
When Washington State’s nonconference schedule was released, one of the most daunting games appeared to be a Nov. 25 contest against the University of Nebraska in the Cayman Islands Classic. So, understandably, it may have been easy to look past the Nov. 21 game against a satellite branch of that same University of Nebraska.
WSU’s 2018-19 basketball season was the lowest-attended in 17 years. While Kyle Smith doesn’t have much of a sample size in 2019-20 after just two home games, against lowly Seattle U and Idaho State, he can already make one assertion about the gym he’ll be coaching in 14 more times this season.
The Cougars won 72-61, but Shead, who’s started all three games at point guard, didn’t return to the floor and couldn’t put any pressure on his right leg as trainers helped him off the court.