PULLMAN – One of CJ Elleby’s favorite things is getting a steal and then seeing the open court in front of him.
His career-high seven steals and 23 points helped lead Washington State to a 72-61 victory over Idaho State in a nonconference basketball game Sunday.
“It’s my favorite,” Elleby said. “I love getting steals. I don’t think I have had seven before.”
Washington State (2-1) had three different players in double figures, went 13 of 16 from the free-throw line and outscored Idaho State 46-32 in the paint.
Elleby, a graduate of Cleveland High in Seattle, had an excellent performance, shooting 9 of 14 from the field and grabbing eight rebounds. The sophomore forward has scored at least 20 points in 10 of 35 career games.
Elleby needed one more steal to tie the program record of eight shared by Don Collins (1980) and Mike Bush (1999).
“I was being aggressive in the passing lane,” Elleby said, “because I noticed they were just swinging the ball in their offense, so I was able to pick a few of those off.”
Issac Bonton added 15 points and four assists, while Jeff Pollard scored 11 points and had six rebounds for WSU.
Eight different players scored for the Cougars, who shot 44% overall despite only going 3 of 17 from beyond the arc.
“We took care of the ball and made some good plays,” said WSU coach Kyle Smith. “I thought we played with a little more poise in the second half and got our legs underneath us.”
The Bengals (2-2) struggled with the Cougars’ defensive effort. Washington State scored 21 points off 20 Idaho State turnovers and held Tarik Cool, the Bengals leading scorer at 19.7 points per game, to two free throws. Cool went 0 of 6 from the field.
Jared Stutzman had 21 points and five rebounds for the Bengals and Chier Maker added 15 points and six rebounds.
“Obviously we are disappointed we didn’t win the game, but I’m happy with a few things,” said Idaho State coach Ryan Looney, a former Seattle Pacific coach. “We have got three guys who might be starters for us who haven’t played a game yet because we are waiting on a waiver and two have injuries. We are going to keep coaching them up and try to get better every day and have all those guys healthy here soon.”