Washington State gets its toughest test of the early season on Monday when it hosts UC Santa Barbara in Pullman, Wash.
The Cougars already have nonconference victories over Alcorn State and Seattle, but they will be hard pressed to match last season’s 8-0 start with a matchup ahead against the Gauchos of the Big West Conference.
UCSB has only played once, and it was against Division II San Francisco State, but it was a convincing 119-65 blowout that tied for the fourth most points scored in program history.
The Gauchos were the regular-season and Big West Tournament champions last season and have four consecutive seasons of at least 21 wins to their credit.
Washington State has been led by Tyrell Roberts, who is scoring 16.5 points per game, while Noah Williams has 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds.
On Friday against Seattle, the Cougars had a slim 35-32 halftime lead before coming out of the break on a 14-3 run that led to the 79-61 victory. It was their 15th consecutive nonconference victory, with 14 of those at home.
“We should have a team that can wear you down,” Washington State head coach Kyle Smith said. “We’ve got depth, we’ve got good size and as they get older, more mature, more confident, hopefully that’ll be a mark of our team.”
After falling to Creighton in a 63-62 heartbreaker in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in March, UCSB appears plenty motivated to make a difference during March Madness this season.
Josh Pierre-Louis and Amadou Sow each scored 25 points in the victory over San Francisco State, while combining to shoot 75 percent from the field (18 of 24). The Gauchos had 29 assists (on 40 made field goals), the third most assists in a game in program history.
“We have a lot of great athletes and (Pierre-Louis) in the open court is really spectacular,” UCSB head coach Joe Pasternack said. “We just have to keep getting better and better.”
–Field Level Media