Isaac Bonton scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half to lead Washington State to a 56-52 season-opening win over Texas Southern on Wednesday night at Pullman, Wash.
Washington State coach Kyle Smith did not miss the game although it was learned last week that he tested positive for COVID-19. He was cleared to return to coaching because he completed the required 10-day isolation period, according to the school.
Three players led Texas Southern with 10 points apiece: John Walker III, Michael Weathers and Galen Alexander.
Aljaz Kunc finished with 11 points and six rebounds for the Cougars, who won their 25th consecutive home opener.
Washington State won despite not making a field goal in the last 6:52 of the game.
Kunc's two free throws with 1:54 remaining in regulation put Washington State ahead 52-50. Weathers answered with two free throws with a minute left to tie the game.
After Kunc grabbed a defensive rebound, he was fouled with 23.9 seconds left. He made both free throws to put the Cougars ahead 54-52.
Noah Williams then drew a charge call on Texas Southern guard Ryan Rapp, and Bonton was fouled after the inbound pass. Bonton made the two free throws to increase the lead to 56-52 with 9.4 seconds left.
Jordan Gilliam missed a 3-point attempt with seven seconds remaining, and Williams grabbed the rebound to close the game.
The Cougars tried to adapt for the first time without All-Pac-12 guard CJ Elleby, who left to the NBA with two years of eligibility remaining. Bonton tried his best to fill the void as the Cougars' lone double-figure scorer until Kunc joined him in the last minute.
After Texas Southern took its biggest lead, 39-31, with 16:28 remaining in the game, Bonton -- who was 1 of 13 from the field in the first half -- started to heat up at a crucial time. He made his second 3-pointer of the second half to spark an 8-0 run that tied the game.
He scored seven points in that surge and 19 of Washington State's first 20 points after halftime to help the Cougars take a 48-42 lead with 5:59 left.
Bonton's performance helped fuel a 19-3 run for the Cougars.
--Field Level Media