After suffering an 11-point upset loss in Prairie View, Texas last year, the Washington State Cougars took the second leg of the Pac-12/SWAC HBCU Legacy Series in Pullman, defeating the Prairie View A&M Panthers, 83-65.
WSU (2-0) had little trouble pushing around PVAMU (1-2) in the paint, outrebounding the Panthers by 13 and doubling their points in the paint, 44-22. Isaac Jones recorded his first double-double as a Coug, scoring a team-high 18 points and pulling in 11 rebounds. Fellow big Oscar Cluff scored 17 off the bench.
“That’s what they were telling us all week, that were going to have to feed the post because they’re smaller than us.” Jones said.
The Cougars jumped out to an early big lead with a 12-0 run for a 17-6 lead. Throughout the run, Myles Rice used his electric speed to blow past defenders, scoring six of the Cougars 12 points in the run. Coming off the bench, the 6’11 Cluff proved to be a force the undersized Panthers weren’t ready for. Cluff bullied his way into the paint and either scored or drew a foul. He ended the half with a team-high 13 points and 7/8 from the free throw line.
WSU built on the lead with another run, scoring nine straight from inside and out, to get up by 17. The highlight of the run being a skyscraping dunk from Jones that got the Beasley crowd on its feet.
“That’s my favorite style of play. I love playing above the rim so it was just another dunk for me.” Jones said.
Andrej Jakimovski began to heat up late in the half, scoring seven points over the last four and a half minutes with a trey and two buckets inside the paint. PVAMU knocked home a pair of free throws before the halftime buzzer to bring the deficit down to 13.
Despite WSU’s best efforts to get out to a insurmountable lead early in the half, the Panthers refused to go away. Every bucket the Cougars scored in the first six minutes was answered by the Panthers. Charles Smith IV’s personal 5-0 run brought the Panthers within 10 with 12:10 to go. Though WSU held strong there, not letting the Panthers drop the lead into single digits. An 11-5 run brought the lead up to 16 and the Cougars fended off any comeback efforts from the Panthers from there on out, finishing with a strong 18 point win. Jones capped off his highlight filled night with 13 second-half points and two blocks.
The Cougs will enjoy a week off before they head off to participate in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Uncasville, CT. Their first game will be at 9:00AM PT, noon local time, against Mississippi State on ESPN2. Rhode Island and Northwestern will also be in the tournament with one of the teams facing WSU on Sunday.
“We got a week to prepare for Mississippi State and I think that will be our first real challenge. Were going to have practice hard, get it going and then see what happens.” Cluff said.