- Associated Press - Saturday, December 3, 2016

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) - New Orleans’ last win over a Pac-12 opponent dates back to 1998. On Saturday, a low-attended road game against streaky Washington State presented an opportunity.

The Privateers owned the Cougars on glass, shot 53.7 percent from the field and Erik Thomas had 17 points and 10 boards as New Orleans defeated Washington State 70-54 to cement the landmark.

“I think it’s a step forward for our program,” New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger said. “My biggest concern was being prepared … and they had good counters from start to finish . I’m humbled at how hard these guys play,”

Christavious Gill scored 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting, Travin Thibodeaux added 16 points and Tevin Boyle finished with 10 points and six assists for the Privateers (4-3).

Washington State (4-4) hung around in the second half, but New Orleans kept its lead hovering around 10 throughout most of the period and had a late 10-2 run to pull away to an 18-point lead in the final minute.

“With little success we’ve had I don’t think we handled it well,” Washington State coach Ernie Kent said. “I just thought the start of game, if the ball doesn’t go down, that really determines what type of energy we play with the rest of the way. I didn’t feel like we had a sense of urgency or energy.”

New Orleans dominated Washington State on the glass 36-20.

Robert Franks led the Cougars in scoring with a career-high 16 points off the bench.

Gill’s early 3 helped New Orleans to a 7-2 lead. WSU tied the game at 13 after Derrien King hit a 3 and Robert Franks flushed a fast break dunk.

The Privateers then scored 13 in a row, fueled by 3s from Broyles, Jorge Rosa and Gill to take a 26-13 lead with 6:23 left in the half. Ike Iroegbu’s seven first-half points helped cut the New Orleans lead to four at the half.

BIG PICTURE

New Orleans: New Orleans managed a big road win over a Pac-12 opponent to pull its record over .500. The win was the first against a Pac-12 team since 1998.

Washington State: Home losses to San Jose State and New Orleans do not look favorable as WSU dropped to .500 on the season. The Cougars lost their second home game against a mid-major opponent in the span of a week and lost any momentum it gripped after beating Utah Valley. Picked to be the Pac-12’s last place finisher, WSU is doing little to convince anyone otherwise.

LOW ATTENDANCE

Kent acknowledged the lack of energy the Cougars put forth may in part be a product of the continual small home crowds. The official box score listed 2,617 fans in attendance at Beasley Coliseum Saturday, which is a fraction of the 11,671 venue capacity.

“I don’t know if (low attendance) is psyching (the players) out, but it’s just hard game-in and game-out to rely on bringing energy yourself,” Kent said. “Sometimes you’re going to come into the game and you’re not going to have your legs, you’re going to be a little worn down and (the crowd) is where you usually get that juice from your crowd, but I just can’t blame it just on the crowd.”

UP NEXT

New Orleans: The Privateers’ next game is at Northwestern on Dec. 11 before they return home to face Louisiana-Lafayette on Dec. 17.

Washington State: With four games left in the nonconference schedule, one remains in the Cougars’ current four-game home stand, a Wednesday matchup with out-of-state neighbor Idaho. WSU then travels to Kansas City, Missouri, to face Kansas State in the Wildcat Classic on Saturday, and returns home to face Santa Clara on Dec. 17 and Sacramento State on Dec. 21.


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