PULLMAN, Wash. -- Davonte Lacy had a career high 28 points and led all scores as Washington State overcame a poor shooting night to beat Bakersfield 62-56 Friday night in the season opener.
Washington State held a three point lead at the half, despite going 9-32 from the field and 2-16 from behind the arc. The Cougars found their rhythm early in the second half and came out strong defensively, holding Bakersfield without a field goal the first seven minutes.
Lacy sparked a 12-0 run with a steal and a dunk to help put Washington State up by 18-45-27-at the 13:23 mark, but Bakersfield would not go away and continued to play aggressive in the paint. Abdul Ahmed added 12 points, six rebounds and hit three 3-pointers for Bakersfield, who chipped away and came back from an 18-point second half deficit.
"Even as ugly as the game was with all the fouls we still had a good lead. All the credit goes to Bakersfield, they never gave up, they hit big three's and played aggressive which put us in foul trouble," Coach Ken Bone said.
With 1:33 remaining, Ahmed hit a crucial 3-pointer to bring the Roadrunner to 58-56, but the Roadrunners fouled down the stretch and put the Cougars on the line.
D.J. Shelton and Royce Woolridge hit key free throws to hold the lead.
"I am happy it was close, we lost so many close games last year, I am relieved we managed a close win," Bone said.
The Roadrunners had a couple of good looks at three's in the final minute, but missed their last four attempts.
"We fought hard in the game, but our turnovers and free throw shooting hurt," Bakersfield Coach Rod Barnes said.
Bakersfield shot poorly from the line, converting 11-28 from the field for the game. Washington State shot 65 percent from the line in the second half to keep the Cougars in the game. The team shot a combined 71 free throws in the contest.
"I don't think calling it that tight is good for the game, I don't think It's what people want to see," Barnes said about the number of fouls called. "I'm not blaming the officials, but rule change."
The Cougars shot a dismal 31 percent for the game on 15-48 from the field, and went 4-23 from behind the arc. Bakersfield shot 41.7 percent from the field.
This is third straight win over Bakersfield for Washington State.