PULLMAN – Fans joined Hall of Fame coach George Raveling in packing Bohler Gym to watch Washington State beat Pacific (Ore.) 97-70 in its second exhibition game.
Although the game was dubbed Flashback Friday and meant to honor the program’s past, the blowout victory served mostly as a glimpse at its future.
Newcomer Renard Suggs, a junior college transfer, paced the team in scoring with 18 points. He scored 14 of those in his first four minutes after subbing in, a sweltering stretch that saw him make his first five shots, including four 3-pointers.
The second half belonged to fellow newcomers Robert Franks and Viont’e Daniels. Franks scored all 13 of his points, and Daniels 9 of his 16, after halftime. Pacific, which was outscored 53-30 in the first half but only had a four-point deficit in the second, played a much more physical game after halftime.
Daniels responded by pestering ball handlers and attacking the rim and Franks used his superior size to body offensive players, finishing with seven rebounds in 21 minutes.
“That’s what we’re supposed to do – be physical, be tough,” Daniels said. “It’s a part of the game. You don’t want to come into the game soft and have people take advantage of you. So what me and Robo (Franks) do very well is we play tough.”
Raveling, who coached at WSU from 1972-83 and led the Cougars to two NCAA tournaments, was honored before the game. Fans were asked to wear “We Love Coach Raveling” t-shirts that were handed out at the entrance to Bohler Gym, an intimate arena where Raveling coached for one year before Beasley Coliseum opened.
“It certainly allowed me an opportunity to revisit a lot of pleasant memories during my 11 years here at Washington State,” Raveling said. “I think perhaps maybe the most unique part of the visit has been the change in the physical structures on campus and particularly the athletic department. It’s just stunning what has transpired over the last 10, 15, 20 years.”
Raveling spoke to the team before the game about his experience fighting for civil rights alongside Dr. Martin Luther King.
“I wish this entire campus could have been in our locker room to hear that talk,” Ernie Kent said.
Facing an opponent who did not have a single player as tall as WSU’s seventh-tallest, the Cougars could have easily used their size advantage and won the game in the post. But that would be slow and unexciting.
Instead the Cougars set a searing pace, trapping on defense throughout the game and averaging just 13 seconds per offensive possession and scoring 33 points of 22 turnovers.
WSU shot 52.3 percent for the game and made 10 of 25 3-point attempts (40 percent).
“One of the things we’ve noticed in all of our scrimmages, whether it’s a scrimmage between ourselves or bringing in a scout team to scrimmage, or the two exhibition games, we continue to shoot over 50 percent from the field,” Kent said.
“I felt, coming into the year, like we had a really good shooting team here and I’m happy to see a couple more guys are starting to, what I call “get on their games” and shoot it with confidence.”
The coach expressed displeasure with WSU’s rebounding, however. The Cougars only had a 41-40 advantage on the boards despite their significant size advantage over Pacific, which did not have a player taller than 6-foot-5.
It is currently Dad’s Weekend at WSU and Saturday’s football game against Arizona State is sold out. Many fans who came over for the game made their way to Bohler Gym, which was packed to capacity with 2,427 fans.