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WSU men hold off Oregon State

Oregon State's Omari Johnson (24) and Washington State's DeAngelo Casto (23) position themselves for a rebound. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)
Oregon State's Omari Johnson (24) and Washington State's DeAngelo Casto (23) position themselves for a rebound. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

CORVALLIS, Ore. — CORVALLIS, Ore. – After a dispiriting loss at Oregon on Thursday night, the Washington State Cougars had to rebound Saturday at Oregon State’s Gill Coliseum.

In a couple different ways.

“That was the main objective. Coach said, ‘Win or lose, we’ve got to rebound,’” Marcus Capers said after WSU’s bounce-back, 61-55 basketball win over the Beavers before 7,376, which included many wearing crimson.

“It was like a broken record. Box-out, box-out, rebound, rebound.”

Told WSU had a 42-30 edge on the boards, Capers did, as he described it, a “Tiger Woods fist pump.”

But that was the general attitude among WSU’s players after they raised their record to 16-7, 6-5 in Pac-10 play, matching last year’s win total for both.

Maybe it was because they did it despite shooting 41.7 percent from the floor, 3 of 15 from beyond the arc, including missing all five second-half long-range shots.

And the did it despite 20 turnovers and with just six points from the conference’s leading scorer, Klay Thompson, who fouled out with 1 minute, 57 seconds left.

When he left, WSU led 56-50. And though Oregon State (9-13, 4-7) crawled back within two 90 seconds later, the Cougars made their free throws. Plus they got a big stop when, with WSU leading 59-55, Jared Cunningham slipped in the key with 12.1 left and the ball flew out of bounds.

Two free throws and a tough Cunningham missed 3 later, it was over.

“I’m extremely happy,” said point guard Reggie Moore, who played like last year’s version for the second time in three games, attacking the OSU zone defenses and getting to the free throw line.

And if it wasn’t on the backboards – “I definitely think it helps, but I don’t think it’s the end answer, if you outrebound the other team you win,” said WSU coach Ken Bone – then it was the free-throw line where the Cougars put together their first sweep of the season.

Led by Moore’s 6 of 7 and Faisal Aden’s 5 of 6, which included four in the final 18.9 seconds to stave off a Beaver rally, WSU was 18 of 23 from the line.

Oregon State, which benefited greatly from Cougar foul trouble, only hit 11 in the same number of attempts. Plus, the Beavers were 6 of 15 in the first half and missed the front-end of three one-and-ones during a confidence-building 18-1 run.

“They missed a lot of free throws that kind of bailed us out,” Bone said. “If they hit a good percentage of those, they’re probably ahead at halftime.”

As it was WSU led 32-27 despite Thompson being a non-factor with six points and two fouls.

But that was his good shooting half. He picked up his third foul 55 seconds into the second – a clear-out with his off arm as Ahmad Starks hounded his dribble – and never was a factor scoring, taking one shot and being shut out. He finished with season lows in points, attempts (seven) and makes (two). He did, however, finish with a game-high five assists.

“He’s not Superman. He’s a human,” DeAngelo Casto said. “He’s going to have those ‘off’ games.”

So Moore, Casto and everyone else played the Justice League and took up the slack.

Casto posted the third double-double of the year with 11 points – 4 of 5 from the floor – and 10 rebounds.

Aden added 10 off the bench (and a career-high seven rebounds) and Abe Lodwick, who didn’t start for the first time this year, giving way to Brock Motum, had six points and earned Bone’s praise for his effort.

That helped overcome a career night for OSU freshman Devon Collier, who was 7 of 9 from the floor, scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, all career highs. Other than him, OSU was 14 of 42 shooting, 33 percent.

With Thompson and Capers both fouling out and others saddled early, there was also minutes for freshmen Patrick Simon and walk-on Will DiIrio. In fact, the two were trading a spot (Simon offense, DiIrio defense) down the stretch as Capers and Thompson were gone.

“We used a lot of kids and played them at unique positions, especially at the end of the game,” Bone said. “We didn’t have the guards we wanted in the game.”

The Cougar bench scored 20 points in 53 minutes, earning a standoff with the Beavers, whose group played 70 minutes.

“It says we’ve got a lot of good players,” Moore said of the contributions. “Klay gets a lot of the credit and that’s understandable, because he’s an awesome player, but we have a lot of really good players.”

He was one of them. After playing with more fire than any time this season against UW, Moore and the rest of the Cougars were, in Moore’s word, “terrible” against Oregon in a 69-43 defeat.

“I’m trying to get back to what I do best,” said Moore, who is still wearing a brace on his injured left wrist. “I can get into the lane, literally, any time I want to. Like I said, the Oregon game was terrible. I wanted to come out here and make a statement.”

Bone thought WSU made one as well, not with the win, though he called that huge. And not with the rebounding, which earned the same adjective. But with effort.

“I’m most proud of the fact we played hard,” he said. “We competed and showed great character.”