ELLENSBURG, Wash. - The Central Washington University men's basketball team clashed with Seattle Pacific in their first game of 2021, falling 86-82.

"It felt really good [to be playing someone else]," CWU Head Coach Brandon Rinta said afterward. "I think there's a lot of things our guys are going to be able to take away from tonight. Positive things and things we need to work on. There are things you can't learn about yourself until you play someone else, especially someone as good as Seattle Pacific. It felt good to be out here against someone else."

The Wildcats (0-1) shot 52.5 percent from the floor, while the Falcons (6-3) managed just 44 percent. Seattle Pacific, however, finished with eight three-point buckets compared to the Wildcats' four.

David Thompson had an impressive night in his Wildcat debut, picking up 29 points on 11 buckets. He finished 11-for-20 from the field and 3-for-7 from beyond the arc, he also knocked down four free throws. Matt Poquette tallied 20 points and finished a perfect 8-for-8 from the floor and 4-for-4 at the charity stripe.

"Matt had a good night for us," Rinta continued. "He didn't miss at all for us. He was super-efficient tonight. I feel like he has been able to take a nice step, it's the way he's been playing in practice and it's nice to see him take it in a game. Dave came up big for us in the second half. He was able to settle us down a bit offensively and get us to the rim when we were struggling."

Central opened the contest with two quick buckets for a 4-0 lead, the Falcons' first bucket cut the early edge in half. The Wildcats held the opening advantage until an SPU layup in the paint levelled the score at 8-8 with 15:45 to play in the first half. After a Matt Poquette layup, the Falcons knocked down a trey to take their first lead of the contest, 11-10.

At the halfway point of the first half a pair of free throws from Marqus Gilson opened a 7-0 run for the 'Cats to tie the game. A driving layup from Thompson cut the deficit to three, 22-19, before Amari Stafford knocked down a three. Gilson then converted on a pair of free throws, but the two-point advantage was quickly snuffed out by Seattle Pacific.

Poquette responded with a turnaround jumper to give the Crimson and Black another advantage, 26-24. Seattle Pacific tied the contest at 30-30 with a pair of free throws and 4:34 left in the opening stanza. The Wildcats then pushed their lead to eight, 41-33, with 1:11 on the clock as Poquette and Thompson combined for all eleven points over the three-minute span.

Thompson put the final bucket of the half on the board, knocking down a pull up jump shot to bring the halftime score line to 43-36.

The Wildcats shot 61.3 percent from the floor in the first, outpacing Seattle Pacific's 44 percent. Poquette recorded 12 points in the first 20 minutes, while Thompson notched 11. They were both plus-12 in the period. Marqus Gilson recorded the highest plus-minus in the first at plus-15. The Wildcats specialized in the paint in the first with 32 of their points coming inside the key.

Seattle Pacific opened the second stanza with a 9-3 run in the first two minutes, cutting Central's lead to 46-45. The Falcons continued to chip away, before levelling the score again at 50-50 with 14:22 to play. After tying the game with his first free throw, Divant'e Moffit converted the second, giving SPU a 51-50 lead. Poquette responded on the Wildcats' next possession, knocking down a jumper, reclaiming a one-point 52-51 lead.

The seesaw battled continued through the second half as the lead exchanged hands every few possessions with neither team able to build a sturdy advantage. Seattle Pacific gained a four-point advantage with 3:14 left in regulation, 76-80.

A pair of free throws from Xavier Smith shrunk the gap to two, but Moffitt responded with a layup bringing SPU's lead back to four.

Gilson drew a foul with 1:26 remaining and knocked down both of his chances at the charity stripe, making it 82-80. Moffitt was there again for the Falcons, picking up a pair of free throws. Thompson responded this time for the Wildcats with a jumper outside the paint. A pair of free throws with just nine seconds left in regulation sealed the Falcons' victory, 86-82.

The Crimson and Black are back in action tomorrow night at Seattle Pacific. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Brougham Pavilion.