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Shots don’t fall, WSU does


COUGARS

The shooting stats from beyond the arc tell the tale. Klay Thompson, 2-10. Nik Koprivica, 1-6. Reggie Moore 0-1 (only one?). And Derek Glasser, 3-3. The Cougars, at home, couldn't find the bottom of the net. ASU's Glasser, on the road, could, and that was a big part of the difference. Read on for the unedited version of my S-R story.

••••••••••

• Here's the story ...

PULLMAN – Usually, succeeding on two out of three things is pretty good.

But it wasn't enough, not nearly enough, for Washington State University's men's basketball team Thursday night against visiting Arizona State.

"We had three things we wanted to do," said WSU coach Ken Bone after the Cougars' 81-70 loss to ASU before 7,360 at Beasley Coliseum. "We wanted to get the ball inside for post up situations, we wanted to be able to drive it and we did a good job there, and we wanted to shoot 3s.

"The one area that was probably most critical is we did not shoot well from the 3-point line, because those are worth three."

Not well might be an understatement.

WSU, which came in shooting 37.4 percent from beyond the arc, hit just three of the 18 it attempted against ASU's matchup zone, which works out to 16.7 percent, second-worst this season. The worst? The 15.4 percent the Cougars shot in Tempe less than a month ago.

"Against Arizona State there's one thing that's been pretty consistent," Bone said. "The teams that have beat them or have played extremely well against them have made 3s."

You can't put WSU on that list.

The Cougars lost their third consecutive game – the first time that's happened this season – to drop to 14-8 overall and 4-6 in the Pac-10.

Klay Thompson, who has struggled beyond the arc throughout the Pac-10 season (hitting 24.2 percent) didn't find his stroke, despite getting good looks, especially early. The sophomore missed his first six long-range attempts, hit two in a row early in the second half, then missed his final two. He finished with 20 points, six coming at the free-throw line.

Nic Koprivica, who came in as the Pac-10 leader by hitting half of his 3-point attempts, was 1 of 6. He finished with 13 points by converting all six free throws.

"I was cold, everybody was cold," Koprivica said. "We just had the worst shooting game."

But despite that, the Cougars still had a chance.

Trailing by 19 early in the second half, WSU used a switching, turnover-forcing defense to get back within four twice (ASU had 17 turnovers but shot 56.5 percent).

The final time came on Reggie Moore drive, cutting the lead to 59-55 with 7 minutes, 43 seconds left. But Moore missed the ensuing free throw, then got caught behind center Eric Boateng as ASU's Derek Glasser sized up a 25-foot 3-pointer.

Having Glasser, who was 4 of 23 behind the arc in conference, miss from long range was something WSU was counting on. But, with time to set his feet, he let this one fly. Like the previous two he took it went it, though it bounced twice on the rim before falling home.

"I just found my rhythm," said Glasser, who stepped on a manager's foot Monday, was in a boot Tuesday and took his first shot since in warm-ups. "I think I was thinking about it too much, just praying (the ball) would go in instead of just shooting the ball.

"Today I just caught it and let it go."

The senior added six free throws to his 3-pointers and finished with 15 points. Ty Abbott, who has been shooting lights out in conference – 45.3 beyond the arc – but missed 4 of 6 3-pointers, paced ASU (16-7, 6-4) with 18 points and nine rebounds.

Boateng, powering his way inside, added 13 and Jamelle McMillan, playing for the first time in three weeks, added 10.

Abbott spent much of the game swarmed by Marcus Capers, who also added some offensive punch early.

The Cougars' first basket came on Capers follow slam, their second on his steal and layup. He finished with a career-high 13 points, hitting 5 of 6 shots, added eight rebounds (six offensive) and a 3-second stretch that might have turned the game.

With ASU in midst of a 12-0 run – the Sun Devils would top that with a 13-0 stretch to end the first and start the second half – Capers picked up three fouls in 3 seconds.

"It hurt," Bone said of the stretch. "A couple of those ..."

Bone wouldn't finish what he thought about the whistles, but Capers had something to say.

"Teams are going to go on runs and I was out when they went on their run and it was a big one," he said.

And WSU couldn't hit enough shots to make a deciding run of its own. But that doesn't mean Bone wants them to stop shooting. He especially wants Thompson to keep firing away.

"If he can get 15 (3-point attempts) up Saturday," Bone said, "I'm fine with that."

•••••

• That's all for now. We'll back in the morning with some thoughts, links and quotes. I was going to write something about the officiating, but I'll save that for the morning except to say Randy Burkhart and Michael Irving did an outstanding job. Until then ...



Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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