LOS ANGELES – For five halves this season, Washington State has found a way to dominate its men’s basketball rivals from across the Cascades.
The sixth one? Not so much. Not even with a Pac-10 Conference tournament-record 43 points from Klay Thompson.
Instead, Washington won 89-87, riding a spirited second-half comeback from an eight-point deficit at Staples Center.
Thompson hit 8 of 15 3-point attempts, some from as far as 28 feet. But when the Cougars got the ball back trailing 88-85 with 9 seconds remaining, he didn’t get a chance to tie.
Instead, Reggie Moore brought the ball up court and was fouled by Scott Suggs with 2.4 seconds left. He missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Thompson hit a follow with 0.4 left and someone from the Cougars’ bench called for a timeout. They didn’t have any. C.J. Wilcox hit 1 of 2 free throws, the ball was tossed in and UW had its first win against Washington State this season after two losses.
Trailing WSU at halftime for the third time this season, the Huskies did something they didn’t do the two previous times. They increased the pressure. Three Cougars turnovers and three missed shots later, UW had taken a 42-32 lead.
Following a Ken Bone timeout, the Cougars regrouped, building the lead back to 51-44 with a 9-2 run.
That set the stage for the final 15 minutes. It was obvious this wasn’t going to be the same as the Washington State’s two regular-season wins.
The remainder would be played at Washington’s tempo.
For the next 5 minutes WSU hung tough, leading 65-62 with 9:10 remaining. But then Isaiah Thomas took over, and his 21 points had little to do with it.
The 5-foot-9 All-Pac-10 performer shredded the WSU zone with the dribble, getting under the guards, drawing bigs and serving Matthew Bryan-Amaning bucket after bucket. The 6-9 Amaning, who had 20 points combined in the first two games, put in 16, complementing the outside shooting of freshmen Terrence Ross (17) and Wilcox (16).
It was Wilcox, the hero of last week’s win over UCLA, who gave UW the final push it needed.
With the score tied at 73 following a Thompson 3-pointer from about 28 feet, Wilcox nailed back-to-back 23-footers. After two Moore free throws, Wilcox answered with another long-range shot. The Cougars got close, but couldn’t overcome the seven-point gap.
Thompson, shaking off the weight of a one-game suspension for a marijuana citation, got off to a hot start from long range, hitting four of his first six. He finished 15 of 27 from the floor.
His presence on the floor was in doubt as late as Monday, as both teams were dealing with some absences in the days leading up to the game.
The Huskies were without reserve guard Venoy Overton, suspended for the tournament after being charged with supplying alcohol to a minor.
But by tipoff WSU was basically at full strength as Thompson was done serving his suspension and Moore shook off the effects of an ankle sprain suffered March 3 vs. USC.
The Cougars’ second offensive option turned out to be Fasial Aden, who hit double figures for the third consecutive game, finishing with 17.
DeAngelo Casto also turned in his third solid performance against UW with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Washington State will now wait to see where it will play an NIT game, a bid to the tournament seeming likely.
Washington 89, WSU 87
Washington State (19-12)—Casto 4-8 5-7 13, Lodwick 0-3 0-0 0, Capers 1-2 0-0 2, Thompson 15-29 5-7 43, Moore 1-2 4-5 7, DiIorio 1-1 0-0 2, Aden 7-13 2-2 17, Motum 1-5 1-2 3, Enquist 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-63 17-23 87.
Washington (21-10)—Bryan-Amaning 7-11 2-3 16, Holiday 5-13 2-3 12, Thomas 8-13 2-3 21, Wilcox 5-10 1-2 16, Ross 6-11 2-2 17, N’Diaye 1-1 0-0 2, Suggs 1-5 1-1 3, Gant 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 34-67 10-14 89.
Halftime—Washington St. 40-32. 3-Point Goals—Washington St. 10-23 (Thompson 8-14, Moore 1-2, Aden 1-3, Capers 0-1, Motum 0-1, Lodwick 0-2), Washington 11-28 (Wilcox 5-9, Thomas 3-5, Ross 3-7, Suggs 0-1, Gant 0-1, Holiday 0-5). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Washington St. 36 (Casto 9), Washington 33 (Holiday 10). Assists—Washington St. 14 (Casto, Lodwick, Moore 3), Washington 20 (Thomas 11). Total Fouls—Washington St. 14, Washington 18. Technical—Washington St. Bench. A—12,191.