Washington cruises past Division II Golden Eagles 74-57

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) Cal State-Los Angeles agreed to play Washington State largely for the paycheck, but it was the Cougars who cashed in big on the basketball court Tuesday evening.

WSU scoring and rebounding leader Josh Hawkinson sat out the game with a groin injury, but the Cougars cruised to a 74-57 win over the Golden Eagles, an NCAA Division II team.

Conor Clifford scored 18 points and Que Johnson had 15 for the Cougars (3-0. Joshua Munzon scored 24 points for the Eagles, who fell to 0-5, excluding exhibition losses to UCLA, Cal State-Northridge and North Carolina State.

''We have to play these games to raise money for our program and our kids,'' CSLA coach Dieter Horton said. ''That's the bottom line.

''Also, I wanted to create some great experiences for our guys. Most of these kids would not ever get a chance to play a UCLA or North Carolina State. They'll remember this game (with Washington State) 30 years from now.''

The Cougars led from the opening minutes and built a 37-25 lead at the half before an announced crowd of 1,280 during Thanksgiving break from classes at WSU. WSU finished with a 40-7 advantage in bench points.

''It shows how deep we are and how talented we can be,'' WSU guard Ike Iroegbu said. ''Josh is a great player, has double-doubles (10 or more points and rebounds) every night. But without him, we still ended up winning by 17.

''I think that shows you that have the ability to go `next man up' (in case of an injury). And since Josh was out, Conor stepped in and just had himself a great game offensively and did the things he had to do to help us win.''

Clifford, a 7-foot junior college transfer, was slowed in the preseason by a knee injury. He scored just five points in WSU's first two games.

''They said it's my breakout game,'' Clifford said, ''it's just because it's the first time I've gotten rhythm, really, and that's all thanks to Ike (Iroegbu's passes).''

The Cougars shot 53.8 percent from the field and held CSLA to 42.3 percent. WSU outrebounded the Eagles 34-23, but Cougars coach Ernie Kent was disappointed that his team had 17 turnovers, only one fewer than the Eagles.

''They have fast, athletic guys over there,'' Horton said. ''They forced a tempo we were not comfortable with. In the second half, we settled in and we started to get some rhythm.''

TIP-INS

Cal State-Los Angeles: Horton spent four years as an assistant coach at USC, a Pac-12 Conference rival of Washington State, before taking the head coaching job with the Golden Eagles last season. Horton was a highly successful head coach in the California junior college ranks at Antelope Valley and Fullerton.

Washington State: Kent said the Gonzaga Bulldogs plan to indefinitely end their long-running series with the Cougars after next Wednesday's game in Pullman. The two schools, separated by approximately 80 miles, have played most years since 1907. Kent said the Cougars want to continue the series, but the Bulldogs wish to pursue other options that fit their scheduling needs better. Although Washington State holds a commanding 98-51 lead in the all-time series with Gonzaga, the Bulldogs have won four in a row and 13 of the past 16 meetings.

HOT SHOOTER

Munzon scored 15 points on 7-for-7 shooting in the first half, but only three other Eagles scored in the half.

UP NEXT

Cal State-Los Angeles hosts Point Loma on Saturday.

Washington State hosts Texas Southern on Saturday.

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