Washington State didn’t need a wake-up call on Christmas morning.
Josh Hawkinson and Ike Iroegbu each posted a double-double, and Washington State beat New Mexico 82-59 on Friday for seventh place in the Diamond Head Classic.
The Cougars (8-4) never trailed and led by as many as 25 points to snap a two-game losing streak. They were coming off a 28-point loss to third-ranked Oklahoma on Tuesday and a four-point loss to Northern Iowa on Wednesday.
Hawkinson, a junior forward, had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Iroegbu, a junior guard, added 17 points and a career-high 11 assists.
“It was very important to win this game,” said Iroegbu, who had his second career double-double. “When you go into a tournament, you never want to lose all the games, so we just had a mindset of just coming out here and playing hard even though the game was at 8 in the morning.”
Que Johnson added 14 points for Washington State, which shot 54.2 percent from the field and 11 of 20 on 3-pointers. Charles Callison and Valentine Izundu had 10 points apiece, the second time this season all five starters scored in double figures.
“We always talk about and preach about chemistry and sharing the ball,” coach Ernie Kent said. “This is a system that is predicated on defense first and getting out in transition and finding people — having poise to find the open man and share the ball — because one through 13 can score on this team. And I thought, for the first time, we looked and almost did it perfectly today in terms of sharing the ball and finding people.”
Tim Williams scored 16 points, Elijah Brown had 15 and Jordan Hunter 10 for the Lobos (7-6), who dropped their fourth straight game.
New Mexico was 0 of 10 from 3-point range. It was the first time since Dec. 17, 2013, against New Mexico State that the Lobos failed to make a 3-pointer in a game.
They committed 18 turnovers, which led to 26 points for the Cougars.
New Mexico had been averaging 78.2 points.
“We just wanted to lock in on their two guards, Neal and Brown,” Iroegbu said. “Whenever they didn’t have the ball, we wanted to make sure we were denying them, and if they did have the ball, make it tough for them to shoot.”
Iroegbu shot 7 of 9 from the field, including 3 of 5 from behind the arc. Hawkinson had his ninth double-double of the season and 29th of his career.
Callison had four assists and three steals.
New Mexico: Senior guard Cullen Neal entered the game averaging 15.3 points but was held scoreless Friday. He played just eight minutes and missed all three shots he attempted.
Washington State: The Cougars’ 27 assists were a season high.
“I thought that was the most impressive stat and one that I had not seen for a long time in college basketball, and it tells you about the character, the chemistry and that guys are finding to find their game,” Kent said.
Washington State used the same starting lineup of Iroegbu, Callison, Hawkinson, Johson and Izundu in all three games in the Diamond Head Classic. Before the tournament, it had not used the same starting lineup in back-to-back games.
New Mexico hosts Nevada on Wednesday.
Washington State hosts USC next Friday.
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