STANFORD, Calif. – One man’s misfortune can be another’s opportunity.
With starting point guard Reggie Moore in street clothes, suspended indefinitely Saturday by Washington State basketball coach Ken Bone for two marijuana-related misdemeanor charges, the Cougars desperately needed someone to seize the moment.
They didn’t get someone. They got a handful.
Not just Klay Thompson or Faisal Aden, who took Moore’s spot in the lineup and scored 20 points. But also DeAngelo Casto, Marcus Capers, who handled the point guard chores, and Abe Lodwick.
And they combined to seize the final 7 minutes as WSU rallied from nine down at the half to defeat Stanford, 61-58, before 5,803 at Maples Pavilion.
“Sometimes you just have to step up. Fortunately I was able to do so today,” said Lodwick, who scored just two points, but they were the final two of the game, hitting a pair of free throws with 5.9 seconds left and WSU nursing a one-point lead.
Jeremy Green had a look from about 25 feet to tie it at the buzzer but it hit off the rim and the Cougars left the Bay Area with a split.
“We had to have this one,” said Thompson, who led all scorers with 21 points, including five in the crucial last 7 minutes.
Washington State (13-5 overall, 3-3 in Pac-10 play) chipped away at Stanford’s halftime edge – built through the Cardinal’s patience and WSU’s lack of same – throughout the second half, finally getting up 42-41 at the 10-minute mark on Brock Motum’s layup.
But the Cardinal (10-6, 3-2) were back up six, 51-45, with 7:34 left.
Thompson got the final comeback started with a drive through the key, switching from his right to left hand to score. Capers followed with two free throws.
Aden, whose 20 points came on 8-of-19 shooting, ran after a loose defensive rebound, tipped it forward over Jarrett Mann, raced after the ball and scored. It was tied at 51.
“Our zone defense was pretty good in that stretch,” Bone said. “It was probably the biggest difference.”
After Mann hit one of two free throws, Thompson back cut, took Casto’s pass, scored and was fouled. His three-point play was followed less than a minute later by one from Casto, putting WSU up 57-52.
Stanford finally got a bucket, its first in 5 minutes, with one of freshman Anthony Brown’s four 3-pointers, but Casto, a 68-percent free-throw shooter, answered with two, the last of his seven points.
Green responded with a step-back 19-footer over Capers, part of his team-high 13 points. There were 97 seconds to play and WSU led 59-57. And no one scored for the next 90 seconds.
Aden carried the ball and Thompson missed a shot in WSU’s two possessions. Josh Owens missed one for Stanford, which got the ball back with 20 seconds to play.
After a timeout, Stanford ran Green off a screen, Casto switched and Green dumped it inside to Owens, who was fouled by Lodwick. With 7 seconds left, Owens, who had 10 first-half points but finished with 12, hit the first but missed the second.
Lodwick got the board – he and Thompson led the Cougars with eight each – and was fouled. He stepped to the line 1 for 4 on the season. The redshirt junior said he hadn’t shot pressure-packed free throws since high school.
Both hit the bottom of the net.
“I thought ‘I’m glad Abe’s going there,’” Bone said. “You know what, Abe’s a tough kid. He’s a warrior and those type of kids are tough mentally.”
With 5.9 seconds left, everyone in the place knew Green, Stanford’s leading scorer, would take the last shot. He did. But his runner was challenged by Capers and Aden and fell off.
Washington State had won here for the first time in five years.
And, after losing their first three conference road games, it was one they all felt they needed.
“We had to get it done,” said Aden, one of four starters who played more than 32 minutes. “If we would have lost this one, it would have been tough to come back (and win a conference title).”
A must-win made even tougher by the news the Cougars learned on the way to Maples.
Moore would not be playing. Before the game WSU announced Bone had examined the details of the charges and had decided to suspend the sophomore. His status will be reexamined next week.
With their point guard playing the role of cheerleader (after the final buzzer he was the first off the bench), the Cougar offense looked disjointed early.
“In the first half we were going one-on-one a lot,” Thompson said.
But Bone took care of that at halftime, though he tried earlier, constantly emphasizing the lack of passing in each first-half huddle. In the locker room he wrote “just pass the ball” on the whiteboard, according to Lodwick, just in case anyone forgot.
“As simple as that sounds, we get away from it sometimes,” Lodwick said.
By moving the ball better and limiting Stanford to 32 percent shooting in the second half – WSU played a 2-3 zone all but the final 1:46 of the game – Washington State was able to stay close. And pull out a road victory.
“I’m really pleased we as a team held our composure on the road in a tight game,” Bone said. “We looked like a veteran team. To me, that was the greatest thing about this win.”