Washington State had little trouble with Alaska-Anchorage on Wednesday, night, opening the Great Alaska Shootout with a 87-68 win. Read on for a game story. Because of early pre-Thanksgiving deadlines, this game story won’t be in the paper tomorrow.
• Here’s our story …
Klay Thompson scored 25 points and Reggie Moore added 17 off the bench as the Washington State Cougars pulled away in the second half to defeat tournament host Alaska-Anchorage 87-68 in the opening round of the Great Alaska Shootout.
The Cougars ran their record to 4-0 with their first road victory, but had to overcome the 27 points of former Loyola-Marymount guard Brandon Walker, who hit five 3-pointers.
WSU trailed the Division II Seawolves 8-7 after 6 minutes, but scored 10 unanswered points, capped by Thompson’s 24-foot jumper, one of his three 3-pointers.
The Seawolves (2-1) clawed back within five at 24-19, but another 8-0 run gave the Cougars some breathing room.
After seeing that lead dwindled to eight at the half (36-28), WSU outscored Anchorage 8-2 to start the second half, with Marcus Capers, who finished with 10 points, scoring back-to-back fastbreak baskets to jumpstart the offense.
Capers and Moore both played in reserves roles – Xavier Thames and Michael Harthun started – after being late to the team bus for shoot-around.
When Moore raced down court and scored a layup with 12 minutes, 36 seconds left, WSU led 58-39.
But with Walker bombing away outside, the Seawolves chipped away, pulling within eight (65-57) at the 7:14 mark on Donnie Lao’s drive.
“I thought we could have put them away earlier,” Thompson said on the post-game radio show.
When Walker stepped back and nailed a 24-footer against WSU’s 3-2 zone – the Cougars went into it following a time out but reverted to their usual man-to-man after the one possession – Alaska-Anchorage was again within eight at 69-61 with 5:30 left.
But Moore hit two free throws and a drive, Abe Lodwick nailed a 3-pointer and two free throws and, with 2:57 left, WSU led by 17.
Besides his team-high 25 points, Thompson grabbed a game-high seven rebounds. He was also 4 of 5 from the line, giving him 33 free throws this season, two more than he had all of last year.
Lodwick, DeAngelo Casto, who struggled through 22 minutes, and Nik Koprivica all added nine points. For Lodwick, who hit his first 3-pointer of the season, it was a career high.
WSU coach Ken Bone pointed to his team’s 27-of-38 showing at the free-throw line as a positive.
“I was pleased with the fact, playing on the road, the first time this year for us, we were aggressive and attacked the rim,” Bone said on the postgame show. “All in all, that’s impressive. I like when we go to the free-throw line.”
The Cougars have Thanksgiving off and will return to the court Friday against Nicholls State at 6 p.m. (PST). That game will be televised on FSN.
• That’s it for now. We’ll be back tomorrow morning, but expect that to be a little later than usual on the holiday. Until then …