COUGARS • UPDATED 10:45 P.M.
We have a longer post for you tonight, including some notes and quotes along with the unedited version of our game story. The reason is to give you a headstart on your Sunday morning. Read on now and save some time in the morning.
• We’ll start with the game story …
PULLMAN – The score was reminiscent of a bygone era of Washington State University basketball.
You know, oh so long ago when the Bennetts, Dick and Tony, were the coaches.
But the factors leading to WSU’s 65-60 Pacific-10 Conference victory – Ken Bone’s first in Pullman – over Oregon State on Saturday were oh so different.
The Cougars surprised the 5,967 at Friel Court – including OSU’s coach – by playing some 30 minutes of zone defense, eschewing their Pack man-to-man to pack it in and force the Beavers to beat them from the outside.
“We shot too many 3s,” said Oregon State coach Craig Robinson of his team’s 7-of-24 performance. “We’re not that good of a 3-point shooting team.”
“Coach said coming in they only had one shooter, and that was Haynes,” said WSU wing Marcus Capers, who set a career high with 10 rebounds while scoring the same number of points. “When you only have one shooter, that makes it easier to play a zone.
“Coach said, ‘let’s give it a look,’ and it worked out for us.”
The shooter Capers was talking about, guard Calvin Haynes, helped OSU rally from a 10-point early second half deficit, scoring 17 points – 12 after halftime – including 3 of 7 on 3-pointers.
Haynes also played a part in a defensive effort focused on stopping WSU’s Klay Thompson, averaging 25.6 points a game. That effort, along with foul trouble, limited the nation’s second-leading scorer to a season-low seven points before he fouled out with 4:49 left.
And Haynes played a key role in the game’s key play.
The Beavers, who shot 25.9 percent in the first half, including 22.7 (5 of 22) with WSU in its 2-3 zone the last 15 minutes, 34 seconds of the period, rallied to tie the game at 58 on two Roeland Schaftenaar free throws with 3:30 left.
After DeAngelo Casto and Xavier Thames, playing for Thompson, sandwiched baskets around a Schaftenaar turnover, Haynes scored on floater in the key to cut the lead to 62-60.
And when Nik Koprivica succumbed to OSU’s pressure and turned the ball over with 43 seconds left, the Beavers (6-7 overall, 0-2 in the conference) turned to Haynes again.
The junior came off a Schaftenaar screen, turned the corner on Casto and went to the hole. But Reggie Moore, WSU’s freshman point guard, slid over and got in Haynes’ way.
A whistle. A charge. The Cougars (11-3, 1-1) had the ball back with 17 seconds left. They hit 3 of 4 free throws in that span, Haynes missed a contested 3-pointer in between, and WSU had a split of the opening conference weekend.
“The ref said I got there, so I got there,” said a smiling Moore of the key defensive play.
“I thought it was a bad call,” said Haynes, who definitely wasn’t smiling. “I didn’t think he was set, I thought he was sliding over. I thought for sure I was going to the free-throw line for that one.”
Asked about the call, Robinson chose his words carefully.
“I continually try to keep a very positive attitude about the officiating in this league, so I’m going to do that – and then I’ll just say ‘except for today’ and that’s all I’ll say,” Robinson said.
Robinson expressed admiration for OSU’s play, pointing out a glaring free-throw discrepancy.
“For them to make 15 of 15 foul shots, that’s great, especially when they’re down 14 foul shots, and both teams are playing a zone,” Robinson added.
Actually, WSU’s 29 free throws didn’t help as much as they should have. Consider the Cougars made just 16, including 2 of 7 by Moore, who came in shooting 83.8 percent from the line.
Despite that, Moore finished with a game-high 19 points, teaming with players like Thames (eight points) and James Watson (seven) to take up some of the slack from Thompson playing just 29 minutes and hitting only 2 of 6 shots.
“Usually I make my free throws in practice and games,” Moore said. “I don’t know, I was shooting like Shaq today.”
Bone thought some of the Cougars’ shooting like Shaquille O’Neal came from tired legs stemming from Thursday’s double-overtime defeat.
“Our legs, we just didn’t look very fresh,” he said.
Those legs were also part of the reasoning behind the Cougars’ zone.
“We really wanted to continue to keep our best players on the floor,” Bone said. “A little slower pace allowed us to do that.”
“Oh yeah, absolutely (a shock),” Robinson said of the Cougars imitating his team and playing zone until switching back to man-to-man with 5:38 left in the game. “You’ve got a guy who’s saying he wants to keep the games in the 80s and this was barely in the 60s.
“But there are no moral victories, you can’t just say because they played zone all game that’s better, because we didn’t win. So what you have to look at, he executed some different game plan better than we did.”
• And now onto some more notes. … The Cougars 2-3 zone not only befuddled Oregon State for much of the game (the Beavers were starting to figure out how to attack late in the second half, so WSU switched back to man) but it also played a role in Thompson’s foul trouble. The thin 6-foot-6 wing played down low on the right side of the zone, called on to rebound against OSU’s more physical players. Two of Thompson’s fouls came on rebounds and another when he was isolated against a bigger OSU player on the post. … WSU attacked Oregon State’s 1-3-1 half-court trap well enough that the Beavers retreated into their 2-3 for a majority of the second half. The Cougars also got their fastbreak going better sprinting out of the zone, according to Bone. … Talk about déjà vu. With 3:53 left, Josh Tarver drove the lane. Nik Koprivica, who finished with six points, four rebounds and three assists, tried to take a charge, got their late and was called for a block. While he and Tarver were on the ground, Casto, who was also involved in the contact, fell over them, hitting Tarver on the head. When Tarver arose, he made contact with Watson (corrected from earlier), earning himself a technical. But the officials needed to huddle, watch the monitor and make sure no one else deserved punishment or was involved. Through it all, there was a murmur of discontent in Beasley, as thoughts must have harkened back to Thursday night’s game-changing technical. Finally, the officials made a decision and motioned the coaches to the table. “I didn’t want to go, I wanted one of our assistants to go,” Bone said. “Those meetings are not fun.” … Moore didn’t think being tired had anything to do with his poor free throw shooting. After all, he pointed out, he was in foul trouble against Oregon and didn’t play that much. But Thursday’s loss had an effect on him. “I wouldn’t say (there was a) hangover. Me personally, I just wanted to come out and be real aggressive because that loss on Thursday kind of got to us a little bit. A lot of people told us to forget about it, but I just wanted to make sure I remembered it, just so it wouldn’t happen tonight.” It didn’t, in part because WSU got off to a much more energetic start. … Capers’ 10 rebounds were a career high and came because he focused on it. “Coach emphasized before the game the guards needed to rebound because we weren’t really helping the posts a lot. That was something I challenged myself to do.” WSU was out-rebounded 32-28.
• That’s it for tonight. We’ll be back in the morning with links. Until then …