PULLMAN – Washington State looks to DeAngelo Casto for a lot during a basketball game.
There’s his shot blocking, his rebounding, his defense. All can alter a game, but rarely do they earn headlines.
But Thursday night, with Arizona State determined to shut down Klay Thompson and the rest of WSU’s outside game, Casto took his offensive game to a couple new levels.
And with it carried the Cougars to a 78-61 defeat of the undermanned Sun Devils before 7,157 at Friel Court.
The 6-foot-8 junior from Spokane out-quicked ASU’s two 7-footers inside for a career-best 25 points, taking 18 shots and making 11, also career highs.
The win moved the Cougars to 14-5 overall and a half-game out of second in the Pac-10 with a 4-3 mark. Arizona, tied with UCLA at 4-2, comes to Beasley Coliseum on Saturday, trying to rebound from a 78-61 loss at league-leading Washington.
And they may face a Cougar team that’s found another weapon.
“When Casto’s doing work like that,” guard Marcus Capers said, “it opens a lot of ways for us to score.”
And helped fill a void created when WSU learned just before the game Faisal Aden, who supplies 14.6 points a game off the bench, wouldn’t be able to go due to a balky left knee.
“We had some things set up where we could do some things with him and Klay (Thompson) together on the floor,” said coach Ken Bone. “It sure took that away.”
So Casto filled the void right from the start, scoring eight of WSU’s first 14 points as the Cougars led by seven less than 7 minutes in.
He also contributed to a 9-0 run that built the Cougar lead to 16 with 5 minutes until the half and ASU, playing without starter Carrick Felix, out with the flu, never got closer than six the rest of the way.
With the WSU defense – anchored by Casto inside – limiting the Sun Devils (9-9, 1-5) to 3-pointers – ASU shot 29, made 10, though only three after halftime – the offense was showing more balance than anytime this season.
Of course Thompson was in the middle of it all. The Wooden Award semifinalist had what has become typical for him: 22 points, nine assists, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.
“I was really impressed with Klay a couple times,” Bone said, referring to the junior’s career-high tying assist total, “because he’s such a capable scorer, when he drives it, he’s one of those guys who can deliver it too.”
Capers was the recipient of three Thompson assists – all leading to dunks – as he added 10 points and a spectacular block of a Trent Lockett fastbreak attempt.
With Lockett trying to turn a second-half Reggie Moore turnover into a bucket, Capers flew in from the weakside, seemed to hang above the rim like Spiderman and got a piece of Lockett’s shot. Then he grabbed the ball before he hit the ground, controlled himself and withstood Lockett’s steal attempt that led to a foul.
“To be honest I didn’t think I was going to block it,” Capers said, “so I was just as shocked as some people who were watching it.”
ASU coach Herb Sendek had to watch as his Sun Devils hoisted up 3-pointer after 3-pointer, leading to one of their worst shooting nights since he’s been in Tempe.
“They were telling us to shoot ’em,” he said of the inordinate number of long-range shots. “We listened.”
And when they missed, WSU had the answer, winning the rebound battle 41-34, with Abe Lodwick and Moore following Thompson’s lead with seven apiece – Moore also had 11 points after missing last Saturday’s win over Stanford due to a one-game suspension – and Capers chipping in a half-dozen more.
Casto, who leads WSU in rebounding, only had five, but he had four blocks and was, for this night, the focal point of the offense. When ASU finally reacted to his presence inside, Thompson, 4 of 8 from long range in the second half after a 1-for-3 first half, had room outside.
“That’s how basketball is supposed to be played,” Casto said. “It’s an inside-out game. And once you start trying to shut down the inside, we’re way too good on the perimeter. Way too good.”