What was evident Friday night at the Nicholson Pavilion is the Central Washington University men’s basketball team can score often.

That could be expected with two of the Wildcats top scorers returning along with a few key transfers – two coming from the Division I level.

But it wasn’t just the starting five putting points on the board, it was the bench, too, which scored 49 points in Central’s 93-73 win over Cal State University Monterey Bay in the season opener.

“That’s what we kind of pride ourselves on this year as being one of the deepest teams in the conference,” said senior Jeryn Lucas. “There’s not really much of a margin, we’re all talented. That’s what we pride ourselves on.”

Lucas, Central’s leading scorer last season (12.5 points per game), couldn’t miss versus the Otters. He finished 9-of-10 with 24 points and hitting 3-of-3 from deep. He added three assists and three rebounds.

He also came off the bench but logged the third-most minutes in the contest for the Wildcats (27:12).

“Just kind of been putting in work, trusting the work that I put in,” Lucas said. “Teammates kept finding me in the right spots and I was just knocking them down.”

And the lone miss?

“It should have went in … should have went in,” Lucas smiled. “I wasn’t upset about it.”

Central (1-0) shot 63.8 percent from the field and had three players in double figures. University of Idaho transfer junior Xavier Smith notched 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and sophomore Matt Poquette added 11.

Three different players scored eight points each (Amari Stafford, Marqus Gilson, and Tariq Woody), and freshman Micah Pollard tallied nine.

Central held Cal State Monterey Bay (0-1) to 51.8 percent shooting and outrebounded the Otters, 34-20.

“I thought we played pretty good, especially offensively,” said second-year head coach Brandon Rinta. “We could have been better at times defensively, but Monterey Bay, that’s a good team. There was a lot of unknowns and uncertainties going into the first game where we had to adjust on the fly.”

The Wildcats and Otters were evenly matched for the better part of the opening half, having five lead changes with the latter on Stafford’s 3-pointer to give the Wildcats the lead for good, 21-20.

With Central holding a slim 35-33 advantage, Lucas went on his own run, knocking down a 3 and then heading to the free-throw line, hitting both, 40-34.

Davon Bolton, a transfer from Division I Northern Arizona, saw his first points on a floater to put Central up eight. After Bolton’s basket, Central kept Cal State Monterey Bay to 1-of-9 shooting and went into half leading, 44-36.

Central continued its torrid shooting to commence the second half, leading as much as 14 after Smith’s 3 from the wing. The Otters, however, slowly cut the deficit and Maurice Woods’ 3-pointer put them within seven, 63-56.

Back to back baskets from Lucas and Stafford pushed Central’s advantage, 70-58, but again, consecutive Otter points trimmed Central’s lead to eight.

That was as close as Cal State Monterey Bay would get, as the Wildcats capped the second half with a 23-7 streak. Central hit its last six shots coming from six different players.

“We just had to get stops,” Lucas said of what was important in the second half to preserve the lead. “First half, we were kind of going back and forth with them. And we’re like, OK, we need to pull away and get some stops.’ I think that’s what we did in the second half.”

Central played all nine of its active players on the night, and each one scored. Going forward, Rinta wants to keep the formula the same.

“All those guys, they bring something different to the table,” he said. “They’re confident, they been playing well. And it’s going to be a situation where everybody’s going to contribute and different guys are going to play better on different nights.”

Central has a quick turnaround, hosting Cal State San Bernardino at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Luke Olson: lolson@kvnews.com; on Twitter: @lukeolsonb

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