Cougars’ collapse fuels rally by Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. – Jeremy Green hit an open 15-foot jumper with 4.6 seconds left Thursday, lifting the Stanford Cardinal over visiting Washington State in a Pacific-10 basketball game, 60-58, before 6,547 at Maples Pavilion.

That’s the denouement, for sure.

But how the Cougars got to that point, well, that’s a story in frustration.

Washington State built an 18-point lead in the first half and led by 15 at halftime. The lead was back to 18 a little more than 4 minutes into the second half, and still 11 – 52-41 – with 7:24 remaining on Klay Thompson’s 24-footer, the last of his team-high 19 points.

“We, I felt we just kind of collapsed,” said a somber WSU coach Ken Bone after Stanford held the Cougars scoreless for nearly six minutes following Thompson’s hoop, putting together a 14-0, back-from-the-abyss run.

“Part of that credit goes to Stanford, because they did a great job,” Bone continued. “On the other hand, we had careless turnovers, careless fouls, not as good of shot selection as early in the game, our defensive rotations were not as good. Unfortunately, we just kind of collapsed.”

Landry Fields, who had seven points in the late run, converted two free throws with 2:04 remaining to give Stanford its largest lead, three points, at 55-52.

But WSU rallied back, with DeAngelo Casto hitting two free throws (he did miss three in the final 4:32, however, including the front-end of a bonus at the 1:16 mark), Nik Koprivica’s putback and Casto’s dunk off a Reggie Moore assist pulled WSU even.

Casto’s slam tied it at 58 with 12.9 seconds remaining, giving the Cardinal enough time to attack with patience. They did, getting the ball to Green, who had 18 of his 24 points in the second half.

“I had a decision to make with 11 seconds left,” said Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins. “Do I call timeout or go with the ball in Jeremy’s hands? I decided to go with the flow of the play. If I had called timeout, they would have just loaded up on those guys and set their defense.”

When the 6-foot-4 sophomore crossed half court, Fields, the Pac-10’s leading scorer who finished with 15 points, eight below his average, set a screen.

Thompson was guarding Fields, who picked off Moore with the pick. And that’s when Green got free.

“We were supposed to switch,” Thompson said. “I didn’t. I just had a bad lapse at the worst part of the game.”

Michael Harthun flew over, but was too late. The ball was gone.

“I was surprised I was so open,” Green said.

So were the Cougars.

“I think we definitely lost focus at the end,” said Casto, who posted his second consecutive double-double, with 15 points and 10 rebounds. “I’m just talking about the last play even. We were in a set defense and we were supposed to switch it. No one switched on him.

“He’s been making shots all game long and his last shot of the game is a 15-footer with no one on him.”

WSU (15-9 overall, 5-7 Pac-10) had one last possession after its time out.

Moore took the inbounds pass, turned Emmanuel Igbinosa a couple times, got some space with a step-back move, but his last-second 24-footer didn’t draw iron. The freshman was just 1 of 10 from the field.

“We wanted to get him the ball in the open court, which is what we did,” Bone said, “and have him drive it, and, hopefully, go to the rim.”

He couldn’t, which was typical of WSU’s offense in the second half.

“Maybe we were too stagnant,” said Koprivica, who was 2 of 8 from the floor. “Down the stretch, like the last 10 minutes, we were focused on taking 3s and long shots instead of driving in.”

The rally by Stanford (11-13, 5-7) came about through a combination of the same elements it used in Pullman to nearly rally from a 20-point halftime deficit: Accurate shooting and aggressive defense.

The former was illustrated by the Cardinal’s 12 of 19 from the floor in the final 20 minutes, including 5 of 9 from beyond the arc. They were 13 of 16 from the line.

“It starts on the defensive end,” Casto said. “They outscored us tremendously (42-25) in the second half. You can look at offense all day, but they scored more points than us, so their going to win the game.”

The Cougars, who were 17 of 33 when they were up by 18 in the second half, hit just 6 of their final 22 shots.

“In the first half we played great team basketball,” Casto said. “In the second half, we lost focus a little bit and some of that went out the window.”

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