PULLMAN, Wash. -- Robert Franks scored 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Washington State beat Nicholls State 89-72 in the season opener for the Cougars on Sunday.
Franks scored 19 of his 31 points in the second half going 3 of 6 from 3-point range. He was a factor on both sides of the floor using his length and athleticism.
Freshman CJ Elleby added 12 points and eight assists for Washington State (1-0). In his first game as a Cougar, Elleby set the tone for the WSU fast break offense. The Cougars had 34 fast break points, while the Colonels only managed four.
"On my board when we start the game, it doesn't say starters and it doesn't say starting five. It says first wave," said WSU coach Ernie Kent. "So, it doesn't matter who is in the first wave because that second wave is coming."
The teams traded baskets in the beginning stages of both halves, but two Cougar runs defined the game. The first was a 6-0 spurt that gave Washington State a 14-point lead with 2:37 remaining in the first half. Then a 7-0 run pushed WSU's lead to 77-58 with 6:25 to play.
"You have got the closing of the first half, closing of the second half. It really is about rhythm and that's what I kinda coach with," said coach Kent.
The Colonels went on a scoring drought of more than 3 1/2 minutes during that stretch, going 0 of 6 from the field.
"I was disappointed with the final eight minutes, I felt that we kind of fell apart as a team and as a whole," said Nicholls coach Austin Claunch.
Claunch added that he would have liked to see more fight out of his men down the stretch when things started to go sideways but credited WSU on their effort on both sides of the floor.
Gavin Peppers scored 16 points with six rebounds for Nicholls (1-2). Daniel Regis added nine points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Nicholls stayed in the game up until the last eight minutes but committing 19 turnovers proved too much to overcome for the Colonels.
"Their 1-3-1 (zone) was really good," said Claunch. "It's hard to simulate that in practice because they have such good length. It is the first time we have seen zone this year to that extent, I thought we took too many 3s."
Washington State: The Cougars started the season 6-0 last year and look to duplicate the same kind of early season success. Starting the season off with a win is a good start but the Cougs are expected to finish at the bottom of the Pac-12 this season.
Nicholls: The Colonels fall to 1-2 on the year and will look to bounce back when they face the Idaho Vandals from the Big Sky Conference just seven miles from Pullman.
Nicholls plays Idaho on Tuesday.
Washington State plays Seattle University on Wednesday.
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