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Subtle change helps WSU hold off OSU

COUGARS

It happened against Baylor in Hawaii, but WSU was able to hold on. It happened against Butler and the Cougars couldn't. It happened against UCLA in the Pac-10 opener for another defeat. But Thursday, when it looked as Washington State might cough up a big early lead in the second half, coach Ken Bone found an answer. And WSU had it's first Pac-10 win of the year, 84-70 over Oregon State. Read on.

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• Going into the penultimate media time out, there were 7 minutes, 43 seconds left and Klay Thompson looked tired. Worn down by Oregon State unrelenting pressure up top against the Beavers' 1-3-1 zone, Thompson and the Cougars were on their heels. The score was 61-54 but OSU had the ball out of the time out. After leading by as many as 19 in a hot-shooting first half, Washington State was about to give up the ghost. Before meeting with his team in the time out, coach Ken Bone talked with his assistants. Thompson was not doing them any good up top. They had to rest him but where should he play? Bone didn't want to put him in a corner, where 3-point shots would come if the players out front could break the pressure. The low post was out of the question. So, by the process of elimination (Bone's words, not mine), Bone decided to move Thompson to the high post, where Abe Lodwick, Patrick Simon and Brock Motum had played, relieving pressure and setting screens. But he gave Thompson a different directive. Roam around, find open spots, get the ball and create. Boy did he. After Ahmad Starks hit his only 3-pointer – a 22-footer from the left corner – out of the time out to cut WSU's lead to four, Thompson's new-found offensive home began to pay off. In the Cougars next 10 possessions, they didn't miss a shot (OK, they turned it over four times), with three dunks, two layups and a Thompson 23-footer from the right corner. That my friends was the ball game. And the basis of my story for tomorrow's paper. ... Thompson's 29 points and 10 rebounds marked his second double-double in as many games and third of his career. He also had five assists, second to Reggie Moore's nine. He played 37 minutes, joining Moore (34) and Aden (32) over 30. They were all needed. As was this win. ... WSU's 29 3-point attempts was season high and the 50 between the two teams was the third time in six games the Cougars have combined with an opponent to shoot 50 or more. ... WSU won the rebound battle 39-37, but Oregon State had 18 offensive boards, 13 in the second half. Bone expressed some disappointment with his team's toughness inside when Oregon State started attacking the glass.

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• That's it for tonight. We'll be back in the morning with more. Until then ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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