Robert Franks scored 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Washington State opened its season with an 89-72 victory against visiting Nicholls State on Sunday.
The senior forward, named the Pacific-12 Conference’s most improved player last season, shot 12-for-19 from the field, including 3-for-6 from 3-point range.
Freshman forward CJ Elleby added 12 points and eight assists, and redshirt sophomore forward Arinze Chidom scored 10 as the Cougars dominated inside, outscoring the Colonels 48-10 in the paint.
Danny Garrick came off the bench to lead Nicholls State (1-2) with 18 points, on six 3-pointers. Gavin Peppers scored 16, including four 3-pointers.
The Colonels, who were coming off an 85-72 defeat Thursday at Louisville, shot 16-for-45 from 3-point range and 8-for-21 from inside the arc.
Nicholls State committed 19 turnovers that led to 29 points for WSU. The Cougars outscored the Colonels 34-4 in fast-break points.
Franks made a jumper to give the Cougars the lead for good at 12-11 with 16:13 left in the first half. The Colonels made just two field goals in a 11:13 span of the first half as WSU took a 31-18 lead.
Franks scored 12 points in the first half as the Cougars led 40-29 at intermission.
The Colonels pulled within seven points, 55-48, on a Garrick 3-pointer with 13:26 to play, but WSU responded with a 10-3 run to pull away again.
Isaiah Wade’s dunk gave the Cougars their largest lead, 82-60, with 4:12 left.
Wade finished with eight points, as did teammate Viont’e Daniels.
Freshman forward Alja Kunc, who scored 24 points in a 138-63 exhibition victory against New Hope Christian, added seven points for WSU.
The Cougars, who next play Wednesday at Seattle University, opened last season 6-0 and won the Wooden Classic but then dropped 19 of their final 25 games. That prompted standout guard Malachi Flynn to transfer to San Diego State after his sophomore year.
The Colonels continue their West Coast swing with a game Tuesday night at Idaho.
—Field Level Media