PULLMAN – Maybe they should just play twice in Corvallis this week and call it a best-of-5.
When Washington State faces Oregon State at 7 tonight in a College Basketball Invitational semifinal at Gill Coliseum, it will be the fourth time the Cougars and Beavers have faced each other this season.
The Cougars (17-16) won the first two – an 81-76 victory in Spokane and an 83-73 win in Corvallis – before the Beavers bounced WSU from the Pac-12 tournament with a 69-64 win on March 7.
This time, the winner advances to the best-of-3 CBI championship series against the winner of a semifinal game between Butler and Pittsburgh.
“We’ve played them three times now, so the scout shouldn’t be that difficult,” junior forward Brock Motum said. “It will just be about execution. They got us last time, so hopefully we can get them this game.”
After WSU had little trouble against OSU’s 1-3-1 zone in Corvallis on Feb. 9, the Beavers played mostly man-to-man when the teams met two weeks ago in the Pac-12 tournament. OSU built an early 24-8 lead in that game before the Cougars roared back to lead 39-38 at halftime.
WSU made only one field goal in the final 10:15 of the game as the Beavers (20-14) iced the game at the free-throw line.
OSU is coming off a breakneck offensive performance in which it scored 101 points in a quarterfinal win over Texas Christian.
“They’re extremely explosive at the offensive end,” Bone said. “I know we’ve got our work cut out for us playing them on their home court and as deep as they are. There’s no doubt we have a lot of respect for Oregon State.”
The other semifinal between Butler and Pitt is a rematch of last season’s NCAA tournament game between those teams.
“They’re both great programs,” Bone said. “It’d be awesome to go compete against them and see how we stack up.”
By beating Wyoming on Monday, WSU assured itself of a sixth consecutive season with a record of .500 or better, just the second such streak at WSU since 1952.
Wednesday’s game will be televised on HDNet (Comcast channel 707, DirecTV channel 306, Dish Network channel 362).