PULLMAN – Washington State’s two new post players shined and the Cougars overpowered nonconference foe Prairie View A&M on Friday evening at Beasley Coliseum.
Isaac Jones and Oscar Cluff combined for 35 points to lead WSU to an 83-65 victory over the Panthers in the Pac-12/SWAC Legacy Series.
Jones, a grad transfer from Idaho, recorded his first double-double in a Cougars uniform. He posted 18 points, shooting 6 of 9 from the field, and pulled down 11 rebounds. The 6-foot-9 Spanaway, Washington, native had the highlight of the day – a soaring, one-handed dunk midway through the first half.
Cluff, who earned junior college All-American honors last season at Cochise (Arizona) College, totaled 13 points in the first half and finished with 17.
“They’re good offensively,” coach Kyle Smith said of the big men during his postgame radio show. “We’re proud of them in that way. Isaac and Oscar did a really good job.”
Cluff shot 5 of 5 from the field and 7 of 8 from the foul line. Cluff contributed five rebounds and two blocks.
The Cougars (2-0) went on a 12-0 run over 4 minutes early in the first half to take an 11-point lead. WSU led 43-30 at the half and withstood a couple of challenges from the Panthers (1-2) midway through the second half.
Prairie View cut WSU’s lead to 10 on two occasions, but the Cougars responded and preserved their double-digit lead throughout the second half. WSU went up by 16 at the 7:34 mark on a fastbreak layup from guard Joseph Yesufu, and the Cougars led by a comfortable margin the rest of the way.
Veteran forward Andrej Jakimovski had 14 points, nine rebounds and four steals for WSU.
“Andrej was really solid, really poised,” Smith said.
WSU guard Myles Rice scored 15 points – eight in the first 6 minutes – and five assists.
The Cougars shot 54% from the field, 4 of 15 from beyond the 3-point line and 19 of 28 on free throws. WSU controlled the paint against the undersized visitors, recording nine blocks and winning the rebounding battle 44-31. The Cougars outscored the Panthers 44-22 in the paint.
Prairie View shot 35.4% from the floor and went 4 of 13 on 3-point tries. Guard Charles Smith IV led the Panthers with 22 points.
WSU avenged last year’s 70-59 road loss to Prairie View A&M.
The Cougars will participate in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament next weekend at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. WSU faces Mississippi State at 9 a.m. Saturday.