The nation’s oldest continuously running men’s basketball rivalry featured a couple of notable “firsts” Thursday in the Battle of the Palouse between Washington State and Idaho.

It was the first time the game was played in the nation’s newest arena, UI’s Idaho Central Credit Union. And it was the first time the Cougs blasted the Vandals by 48 points.

WSU dominated the game in all facets and cruised to the rivalry series’ largest margin of victory in its 100-plus year history, 109-61.

The packed arena created a raucous atmosphere with many of the 2,727 fans in attendance sporting crimson and gray.

“We played probably our best game since I’ve been here, to be honest,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said. “Really proud of how our guys were unselfish throughout, played the right way on both sides of the ball and really you don’t get many games like that in your career.

“Didn’t see that coming, but you’re happy when it does and couldn’t be more proud of this group.”

Idaho (1-3) hopped out to an early 6-2 lead on 3-pointers by guards Mikey Dixon and Gabe Quinnett, but the undersized Vandals couldn’t keep up with the size and explosiveness of WSU’s deep group.

WSU forward Mouhamed Gueye snagged a steal and transition dunk to tie the game at 6 and after another tie at 8, the Cougs went on a 10-0 run for their first double-digit advantage.

An Idaho team that features nine newcomers struggled to find an offensive rhythm against the stingy Cougs and Smith’s signature defense. WSU (4-0) forced seven turnovers in the first half as it extended its lead to 47-29 by halftime.

“They changed up their defenses, they did a nice job pressuring the ball and they made life a little bit difficult for us, and we did not respond well at all,” Idaho coach Zac Claus said. “They’re long, they’re athletic, they can score in a variety of ways. They don’t have many weak spots right now.”

Idaho eliminated its turnover problem in the second half, but it didn’t help much. WSU clogged the lanes on defense and found transition layups and nifty jumpers on offense.

The Cougars put their depth on display as 13 players saw the court, 10 scored and six reached double figures.

Noah Williams led the way with 16 points, followed by Gueye (13), Michael Flowers (13), Efe Abogidi (12), Ryan Rapp (12) and TJ Bamba (11).

“I tell our guys probably twice a week — I address them before practice and said, ‘we have no bad players,’ ” Smith said. “We have no guys that can’t play at this level. It’s just unfortunate you can’t play 15 guys. It just can’t be done.”

Rapp, a junior from Melbourne, drew massive cheers from the WSU bench and Cougar faithful when he entered the game scored his first points of the season late in the second half. He later sank a 3 from NBA range, to make it 107-53 — a signal of the kind of night it was for the Vandals. WSU led by as many at 54.

Some telling numbers: WSU outscored UI 28-6 off turnovers and 40-16 in the paint.

Dixon scored 12 points as the only Vandal to reach double figures.

Next up, WSU returns to its side of the border to play host to Winthrop at 6 p.m. Monday at Beasley Coliseum.

Idaho will try to get its season back on track the same day at the SoCal Challenge when it faces Utah Valley at 2:30 p.m. in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

“We got a good team coming in Monday, Winthrop, who’s used to winning,” Smith said. “Hopefully we can build on it.”

Washington St. 109, Idaho 61

WASHINGTON ST. (4-0)

Gueye 6-7 1-2 13, Abogidi 5-6 2-2 12, Flowers 5-7 0-0 13, Roberts 0-5 4-4 4, Williams 7-12 2-3 16, Bamba 4-6 2-2 11, Koulibaly 4-8 0-0 9, Rodman 3-6 1-2 8, Jackson 0-1 3-4 3, Jakimovski 3-4 0-0 8, Rapp 3-4 4-4 12, DeWolf 0-0 0-0 0, Burghardt 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 40-66 19-23 109.

IDAHO (1-3)

Pepple 0-4 3-4 3, Anderson 3-10 0-0 7, Dixon 2-9 7-8 12, Quinnett 2-9 0-0 6, Smith 1-6 1-1 3, Bertain 2-5 0-0 5, Christensen 2-2 3-4 7, Kilgore 2-3 4-4 8, Salih 2-8 0-0 5, King 1-2 0-1 2, McHugh 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 18-59 18-22 61.

Halftime: Washington St., 47-29. 3-Point Goals: Washington St. 10-22 (Flowers 3-4, Jakimovski 2-2, Rapp 2-3, Bamba 1-3, Koulibaly 1-3, Rodman 1-3, Roberts 0-4), Idaho 7-24 (Quinnett 2-8, McHugh 1-1, Dixon 1-3, Salih 1-3, Anderson 1-4, Bertain 1-4, Smith 0-1). Fouled Out: Christensen. Rebounds: Washington St. 37 (Gueye 6), Idaho 26 (Pepple 8). Assists: Washington St. 18 (Williams, Rodman 5), Idaho 11 (King 4). Total Fouls: Washington St. 20, Idaho 19. A: 2,727 (5,732).

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, swiebe@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.

Recommended for you