PULLMAN – It wasn’t like Klay Thompson was slacking off. At halftime, he had 15 points and had helped Washington State University to an eight-point lead.
But he hadn’t done what the 7,285 in Beasley Coliseum usually expect.
The 6-foot-6 sophomore hadn’t hit a 3-pointer.
It took 11 seconds in the second half to correct that.
Thompson’s 22-footer from the right wing ignited a 14-point run and propelled the Cougars to a 76-64 non-conference basketball victory over the University of Idaho on Wednesday night, WSU’s first win after two road losses.
“It was a little bit of a wrinkle on what we usually run, and they bit on it,” said WSU coach Ken Bone of Thompson’s first 3-pointer. “We got a good screen, Klay was open and I don’t think it surprised anybody, even though he missed his first four in the first half, that he buried it.”
It certainly didn’t surprise Idaho coach Don Verlin, who emerged from the visitors’ locker room to rip into his team’s effort, especially guarding Thompson.
“I didn’t think we played hard,” a fuming Verlin said. “That was the thing I was most disappointed in was our effort tonight. I thought we didn’t compete from the start.
“There’s no excuse for it. … I’m embarrassed how we played tonight.”
Thompson hit 9 of 21 shots to finish right at his season average with 25 points.
“Horrible,” is how Verlin described UI’s defense on Thompson. “He got any shot he wanted, he went wherever he wanted … and it showed by his shooting stats.”
“It was a lot different then the last two games,” said Thompson, who was hounded into a combined 11-of-36 shooting and 12 turnovers in losses to Gonzaga and Kansas State. “I don’t want to be mean or anything, but I think those last two teams might have just been a little better.”
Even though Thompson had eight points in the game-deciding stretch, he wasn’t alone – all night or during the run.
Abe Lodwick, who set the screen that freed Thompson for his first 3, added two 3-pointers – his only baskets of the night – and DeAngelo Casto followed his own miss as WSU (7-2) seemingly got to every loose ball.
After UI (5-3) broke the Cougars’ run on Mac Hobson’s inside score with 17 minutes, 1 second left, WSU put together a 7-0 streak that left it with a 57-30 lead, its largest of the night. Over 6 minutes, 23 seconds, the Cougars had outscored Idaho 21-2.
“Threes,” Bone answered when asked how the Cougars put together their run. “We racked up a lot of points real quick by hitting 3s.”
Verlin had a different view.
“We came out with no energy,” he said, “and missed about four defensive assignments and didn’t rebound the ball.”
The Cougars led 63-39 with 8:49 remaining, but Idaho put together a 9-0 run of its own to get within 15 with 6:25 left. The Cougar defense tightened up, however, and Reggie Moore, who finished with 12, ended the WSU drought with a drive with 4:14 left.
The Vandals pulled with seven with a little over a minute left on Jeff Ledbetter’s fourth – and last – 3-pointer, but could get no closer as WSU hit enough free throws down the stretch.
Casto added another double-double, pulling down 14 rebounds to go with 13 points.
Luiz Toledo, a 6-8, 225-pound inside force would have helped the Vandals on the boards, but the sophomore from Brazil, averaging 5.9 rebounds a game, did not play. Verlin said it was due to a decision by the training staff but wouldn’t elaborate.
Kashif Watson scored eight of UI’s first nine points before finishing with a team-high 16.
Washington State 76, Idaho 64
Percentages: FG .390, FT .611. 3-Point Goals: 7-24, .292 (Ledbetter 4-8, Johnson 2-5, De Souza 1-6, Lawrence 0-1, Hopson 0-4). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 5 (Stern 2, De Souza, Jefferson, Ledbetter). Turnovers: 12 (Jefferson 3, Lawrence 2, Ledbetter 2, Watson 2, Hopson, Barone, Blackstone). Steals: 4 (De Souza, Stern, Ledbetter, Lawrence). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .433, FT .667. 3-Point Goals: 6-18, .333 (Lodwich 2-3, Koprivica 2-3, Thompson 2-9, Harthun 0-1, Moore 0-2). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 5 (Casto 4, Thompson). Turnovers: 10 (Casto 3, Thompson 3, Moore 2, Lodwick, Team). Steals: 2 (Thompson, Enquist). Technical Fouls: None.
Halftime–WSU 36, Idaho 28. A–7,285.
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