PULLMAN – It had just about everything those packed into Beasley Coliseum and watching on television could have wanted.
Big shots and little plays. Highlight-worthy slams and crucial steals. Foul trouble for the stars, key minutes by the backups, eardrum-straining noise from the crowd.
But, most importantly for most of the 10,579 at Beasley Coliseum on Sunday night, it ended with Washington State on top, 87-80 over the 18th-ranked Washington Huskies.
“Oh-and-four against them, that didn’t feel too good,” said junior Klay Thompson, who experienced his first win against UW and played a big part in it with a game-high 25 points and four assists.
The last time WSU had defeated the Huskies it came in double overtime on March 8, 2008, and was Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver and Robbie Cowgill’s last game in Pullman.
The students didn’t rush the court that night, but they did after this one, lifting Faisal Aden – who was Thompson Lite when the real thing was sitting with foul trouble, scoring 15 points and handing out a career-best four assists – on their shoulders.
But the student section had been doing that figuratively all night. They helped the Cougars recover from a seven-point, first-half deficit, helped them build an 11-point edge early in the second half and, when the Huskies closed to within four and WSU struggling to score, helped the Cougars recover their equilibrium.
“I kinda wanted to do it for the crowd,” Aden said, “because I knew they really wanted this one bad.”
But it was Thompson, Reggie Moore and a WSU zone defense that gave the students something to scream about, and helped the Cougars raise their record to 15-6, 5-4 in the Pac-10’s first half.
The 2-3 zone, which has become a staple of coach Ken Bone’s second year, limited the Huskies to 37.1 percent shooting, though that number is a little deceiving. UW, which shoots almost 50 percent from the floor, was 11 of 31 beyond the arc, 35.5 percent, but just 12 of 31 from close range.
Setting the tone was Isaiah Thomas, the Pac-10’s leading assist man. The 5-foot-9 Thomas was able to get by the Cougars’ guards out front with ease at times, but missed his first eight shots and finished 3 of 13, though he had a team-high 19 points after converting 11 of 12 free throws.
But he also had seven turnovers as UW (15-5, 7-2), which averages less than 12 a game, had 24.
“I felt like some of the turnovers Washington had was because of our defense,” Bone said. “But some of them was they didn’t complete plays they usually complete.”
The teams combined for 59 free-throw attempts, with three Cougars (DeAngelo Casto, Abe Lodwick and Brock Motum) and one Husky (Thomas, after the outcome was decided) fouling out.
Moore didn’t have to deal with foul trouble, playing 36 minutes and scoring a season-high 18 points. He also gave WSU its 11-point lead when he gathered in Aden’s pass and threw down a dunk with 16:30 left.
“I knew we were going to win that game when Reggie caught that lob,” Thompson said. “I knew we were playing with too much fire and there was no way we were going to let that lead slip away from us.”
But no one else did. With just over 6 minutes left, Moore relaxed on defense and Thomas hit his first shot of the night, a 3-pointer that cut WSU’s lead to six, 75-69. Bone called timeout.
He said he wanted to get Moore a rest, remind him of his defensive responsibilities and bring Thompson, Casto and Lodwick back, all with four fouls.
Thompson took over. He drove, pulled up and hit a 5-footer. After a Casto steal gave the Cougars a key stop, Thompson came off a Patrick Simon screen and hit a 23-footer. With 5:23 left, it was 80-69 and the Huskies never really threatened.
And Thompson thinks he knows why.
“Physical toughness and mental toughness,” he said. “They are both very important if we are going to be successful. We’ve got to be as tough as we can.”
Percentages: FG .371, FT .793. 3-Point Goals: 11-31, .355 (Ross 4-8, Thomas 2-6, Holiday 2-7, Suggs 2-8, Gant 1-2). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 5 (Bryan-Amaning 2, N’Diaye 2, Gant). Turnovers: 24 (Thomas 7, Suggs 5, Holiday 4, Overton 3, Gant 2, Bryan-Amaning 2, N’Diaye). Steals: 8 (Thomas 3, Bryan-Amaning 2, Overton, Gant, Holiday). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .484, FT .633. 3-Point Goals: 8-17, .471 (Aden 3-6, Thompson 3-6, Simon 1-1, Moore 1-3, Lodwick 0-1). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 3 (Lodwick, Aden, Thompson). Turnovers: 12 (Thompson 5, Capers 2, Aden 2, Moore 2, Lodwick). Steals: 13 (Thompson 5, Lodwick 2, Casto 2, Aden, Moore, Motum, Capers). Technical Fouls: None.
Halftime—WSU 45-43. A—10,579.