When the offense isn't working, defense has to keep you in a game. Washington State's defense did just that in the early going of this NIT matchup. After 14 minutes, Long Beach State was 2 for 19 from the floor. That allowed the Cougars to overcome their own sloppy play, some shooting woes and build a 21-8 lead. The 49ers hit 5 of their final 14 first-half shots, but by then WSU was going better as well. Or at least Klay Thompson was. The junior has 15 points at the half, hitting 6 of 12 shots as he's attacking the mid-range with authority. The 49ers are not letting him come off screens at the 3-point line – switching those screens – with a clean look, so he's putting the ball on the floor, getting space and pulling up. … On the other end, where WSU is really winning the battle, Marcus Capers took CSULB's Casper Ware out of the game early, denying the 5-10 junior the ball and, when he got it, making him give it up, especially off ball screens with help from DeAngelo Casto and the other bigs. Ware was 1 of 6 shooting, with his one basket coming on a blow-by past Faisal Aden. … As for the rebound battle, which usually tells the tale for WSU, the Cougars are up 23-20. That's it for now. We'll be back about 90 minutes after the end of this one.