PULLMAN – Reggie Moore didn’t lead Washington State in scoring Saturday night – Klay Thompson did that for the 11th time this season – but don’t be misled.
It was Moore who led the Cougar offense in their surprisingly lethargic 77-63 win over an out-manned Oregon Duck team at Beasley Coliseum.
“He stepped up early when we really needed him to provide some scoring,” WSU coach Ken Bone said.
The Cougars didn’t just need Moore early, they may have lost without him. The sophomore point guard took charge offensively, scoring 13 of WSU’s first 25 points.
After delivering the kick-start, Moore cruised into halftime with 15 points and the Cougars (12-4, 2-2 in Pac-10 play) had a 13-point lead.
From there Thompson found his stroke (11 of his game-high 16 came after halftime), DeAngelo Casto started getting loose inside (he finished with 12 points and seven rebounds) and Marcus Capers seemingly cleaned up everyone’s misses, finishing with 13 points, eight coming as a direct result of offensive rebounds, four on follow dunks.
All of which whitewashed a lackadaisical – Bone’s description – start and a sloppy finish.
“We kind of went through the motions early,” Bone said, “and once we had a decent lead late, we went through the motions again.”
After spending the last 48 hours talking about how important it was to avenge last year’s 91-89 New Year’s Eve double overtime loss to the Ducks, the Cougars fell behind by eight in the first 8 minutes.
“Sometimes you start slow,” Casto said and the Cougars proved it, taking their time getting used to Oregon’s pressure.
The Ducks aren’t deep, but the still try to play fullcourt as much as possible under first-year coach Dana Altman.
And the off-and-on pressure seemed to confuse the Cougars early as they turned the ball over six times in the first 5 minutes.
“Our press has bothered people,” Altman said, “but, you know, we get a little winded there.”
The miscues played a big part in the Ducks breaking out to a 17-9 lead after three consecutive 3s. But the turnovers were only part of it. For the second consecutive Saturday, WSU just couldn’t find the basket early.
Thompson missed his first four shots, Faisal Aden came off the bench and did the same and the Cougar offense looked discombobulated.
Unlike the loss to USC, though, it didn’t continue.
Moore, who was in the news this week with legal trouble, took care of it. He hit his first 3-pointer 6 minutes in, kept shooting and had 15 points –tying his season high – at the half. He didn’t score again, but he finished with five assists, giving him 14 for the weekend.
Capers, who had 25 points against the two Oregon schools, helped out early with two highlight-worthy follow slams and the Cougars went on an 18-2 run and led 39-26 at intermission.
The run of good play continued after halftime, with the lead building to 21 with 11 minutes, 13 seconds left, before WSU took its foot off the gas and Oregon (7-9, 0-4) used Garrett Sim’s three 3-pointers (a team-high 13 points) to stick around.
But the Ducks never could closer than the final score.
Joevan Catron, the Ducks’ lone inside presence, didn’t return for the second half after injuring a calf and, with Malcom Armstead already out with bad knees, the short-handed Ducks got even shorter. Jeremy Jacobs, a starting forward, could only go 6 minutes with knee problems and E.J. Singler, the other one, played sparingly due to foul trouble.
“I’m not sure we got their best shot tonight,” Bone said. “I think they’re better than they showed.”
And, despite his worries, Bone was happy with the win.
“We did some good things too,” he said. “I don’t want to sit here and dwell on all the negative things we did.”
There was a positive effort on the boards, leading WSU to a 47-35 edge, including nine for Capers and eight for Thompson. There was also Thompson’s three blocks, two coming on back-to-back drives by Jay-R Strowbridge, plays Altman described as “punches.”
After sweeping the Oregon schools, the Cougars head to the Bay Area next weekend and Bone knows an effort like Saturday night’s won’t get it done.
“We need to play better than that as we go on the road this week,” he said.