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WSU ecstatic about beating USC


COUGARS

We don’t want to waste your time, so let’s get right to it. By shooting 56 percent in the second half, including its last eight shots, WSU was able to overcome a 10-point halftime deficit and get past USC last night in LA. As you could expect, this made the Cougar pretty happy. The locker room was pretty loud. Even Klay Thompson showed some emotion, smiling and pumping a fist after his 15-footer gave WSU a 64-58 lead with about a minute left. We have more, so read on.

••••••••••

• Washington State: Late games push the boundaries of our print deadlines. So, with about 15 minutes left in the game, I started to write my story. Kiss of death. The five or six paragraphs I wrote had to be deleted, replaced by a story focusing on a comeback I really never saw coming (the unedited version was available last night). Except I sort of did. This is what I wrote in the pregame post: “I asked Bone about that at Tuesday’s press conference, about the ability most O’Neill groups have to take away their opposition’s strength. He agreed that’s something they can do at times. But he was also interested, he said, to see what USC thought WSU’s strength really was. Most teams, of course, figure it’s Klay Thompson and his 22.9 scoring average. I’m wondering if it’s Reggie Moore’s ability to get into the lane.” Last night it was Moore’s ability to get into the lane, and USC could do nothing to stop it. “We let up on the defensive end. The point guard for their team made some really big plays,” said Moore’s most consistent victim, Mike Gerrity. … Freelancer Howie Stalwick had this piece in the Kitsap Sun and other papers. … The story in the LA Times focused on Moore, while the Daily News piece has more on Thompson. … A look behind the stats: USC shot 37.3 percent from the game, but they hit 41.9 in the first half. WSU started off playing man and doubling the post. That led to a couple early turnovers but eventually to a handful of easy baskets. Then WSU switched to a 2-3 zone, but USC just outraced it down the court or hit the offensive glass (eight first-half offensive rebounds). It was straight man in the second half, which helped WSU to a 20-14 rebound edge. … USC center Nikola Vucevic had 10 rebounds, but was 0 for 7 from the floor and had two key turnovers down the stretch. … DeAngelo Casto had just four points but eight rebounds. …. WSU played seven guys more than 13 minutes and Charlie Enquist 7 more. USC played seven guys more than 13 minutes and Marcus Simmons 5 more. But after the game there was a lot of talk from the Cougars about their deep bench and how they wore down the Trojans, who aren’t as deep. Interesting. … Marcus Johnson and Alex Stephenson overpowered WSU inside at times, combing for 24 points and 13 rebounds. … Dwight Lewis had a quiet 13 points. … Though Moore was impressive, he did have five turnovers, most early. … Now on to more comments from the participants. …

WSU coach Ken Bone when asked if the Cougars’ hallmark is they never quit: “That would be a good hallmark to have. … I appreciate the effort. There were a few times where we could have kind of fell apart because (USC) is a very good team and our guys are aware of how good they are. … Our coaching staff is very proud of what our guys were able to accomplish tonight.”

Bone on halftime: “That’s what we talked about, those two things (shoring up turnovers that led to fastbreak points and rebounding). We talked about the fact they had 10 points in transition and we had zero and the fact they had, I think, seven points on second-chance points and we had two. That’s a 15-point difference and we’re down five.”

Senior Nik Koprivica on Moore’s play: “I get surprised by Reggie every single game.”

Koprivica on USC’s size: “They’re big. They’re much bigger than me at the 4.”

Moore on finding Koprivica for the 3-pointer that gave WSU the lead for good: “I always find Nik. He’s always ready, he’s always clapping, I can just hear him clapping, I just look and he’s always wide open.”

USC coach Kevin O’Neill on the comeback: “When things got tough defensively in the second half, we broke down. When we gave them a little crack of daylight, they came through. … We just didn’t have a good second half. We had the game in hand and we just collapsed.”

More by O’Neill on Moore: “Moore lit us up and tore us apart. … One guy wrecked us. Put that on me. It was dribble-dribble over and over.”

O’Neill on the last stretch: “When it got tight, we kind of panicked offensively.”

•••

• Around the Pac-10: The Huskies fell at Pauley Pavilion when Mustafa Abdul-Hamid buried an 18-foot jumper at the buzzer for a 62-61 UCLA win. … Oregon State just gives up at Stanford and have already practiced today. The Cardinal see it as being relentless. … Oregon also got hammered by Cal, which shot like it did in Pullman. … ASU and its match-up zone takes on Arizona and freshman Derrick Williams on Saturday. … One more national story on the Pac-10.

•••

• That’s almost all for this morning. We have a couple of different WSU stories for you, including this one that mentions WSU recruit Patrick Simon extensively and this piece which mentions football center Kenny Alfred in a positive light in the last paragraph. We’ll be back as events warrant today. Until then …


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