Capers leads Cougars to CBI first-round win

SAN FRANCISCO – Marcus Capers led Washington State to a win in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational on Tuesday night, but he was still expecting a critical phone call from his father, Jerome.

“I’m pretty sure he’s going to call me and rip me about not getting a triple-double. He’ll have the stats,” Capers said.

Capers registered 12 points, eight rebounds and a career-high eight assists to lead the Cougars to an 89-75 victory over host San Francisco. Washington State (16-16) will face the winner of Wednesday’s game between North Dakota State and Wyoming in the quarterfinals Monday. The home team for the game will be determined after tonight’s game.

Capers, one of four seniors on the Cougars’ roster, said he’s been eyeing a triple-double since getting nine points, 10 rebounds and seven assists last month against Arizona State.

“Can I get a triple-double before I leave?” he lamented.

Capers’ assist total was part of an overall unselfish performance by the Cougars, who had a season-high 20 assists. Washington State shot 60.4 percent from the field, repeatedly breaking the Dons’ full-court pressure for dunks and layups.

“I thought our spacing and our ball movement was outstanding,” WSU coach Ken Bone said. “We played a really unselfish game. It was one of the better games all year in regards to continuing to find the open guy.”

The Cougars had nine dunks or layups in the second half alone, the last of which, by Abe Lodwick, gave WSU a 79-70 advantage with 2:28 remaining and virtually sealed the win.

Brock Motum led Washington State with 24 points while Reggie Moore added 18 points, six assists and five rebounds. While both teams had four players in double-figures in scoring, the Cougars’ bench outscored the Dons’ 17-0.

The Cougars came close to turning it into a blowout early, using a 15-3 run to take a 24-10 lead with 11:30 remaining in the first half. But the Dons came back, including an 11-0 run, and the Cougars led 35-34 at halftime. Three-pointers by DaVonte’ Lacy, Motum and Mike Ladd sparked the rally.

But led by Federal Way, Wash., native Cole Dickerson, making his first career start in place of injured All-West Coast Conference honorable mention Rashad Green, the Dons (20-14) sliced into the deficit. Dickerson, who came in averaging just 6.8 minutes per game, scored nine points during an 11-0 run to cut it to 24-21 with 7:19 left before the intermission. Motum converted a three-point play and scored a layup to halt USF’s momentum, but consecutive 3-pointers by Michael Williams and Dickerson made it 31-30 at the 3:04 mark.

After matching his career high with 15 points in the first half alone, Dickerson finished with just 19.

“We were very aware of Cole,” Bone said. “We recruited him out of high school. We have the utmost respect for him as a basketball player. He had a great game and I’m happy for him. He’s a great kid.”

The Cougars led 35-34 at halftime and never relinquished the lead, although San Francisco stayed within single digits for most of the second half and only trailed 71-67 with 5:49 left. The Cougars were terrific from the free-throw line and the entire evening, converting 25 of 28 from the stripe.

“We got better tonight, and that’s what the CBI is about,” Motum said.

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