Cougars' upset bid falls short in 63-58 loss

A RAUCOUS crimson-and-gray clad crowd. A rare top-five opponent visiting Beasley Coliseum. The return of Reggie Moore. But then came the massive turnovers, horrid free throw shooting, and no rebounding. It was a wonder Washington State was in this game at all. But the Cougs actually took a one-point lead down the stretch.

Washington State lost 63-58 on Friday against No. 5 Kansas State, but kept it entertaining until the end.

The Cougars (5-1), who trailed 30-22 at halftime, took their first lead of the second half when Moore found junior center DeAngelo Casto, who also returned from a two-game absence with a right foot injury, for an uncontested layup to give WSU a 54-53 advantage.

But after forward Jamar Samuels split a pair of free throws, Jacob Pullen stripped Moore and found Curtis Kelly for an uncontested layup to give the Wildcats a 58-56 lead they would not relinquish.

The outcome might have been different with a better performance from junior wing Klay Thompson, although he was the high scorer for the Cougs with 16 points.

Last season, his production slipped substantially when the Cougars entered Pac-10 play — 16.1 points per game on just 35.7 percent shooting. Some of that was rationalized as opponents were able to focus on Thompson without another outside shooter to complement him.

That was supposed to change with the addition of junior-college guard Faisal Aden, though.

But both Aden and Thompson struggled as they combined to shoot 9 of 28 from the field.

"These guys are not good shooters — they're great shooters," Moore said in a postgame radio interview. "Faisal and Klay had wide-open looks they make 90 percent of the time."

In addition to poor field goal and free-throw shooting — the Cougars converted just 13 of 23 attempts from the line — and WSU could not contend with KSU's rebounding prowess. The Wildcats (7-1) had a 45-33 edge in that statistic. Perhaps the most damaging for the Cougars came when Pullen corralled his own shot and Samuels later scored on a hook shot to give KSU a 58-54 advantage with 32 seconds left.

"That was a huge play on their part," Bone said in a postgame radio interview. "We battled, but we did not get rebounds."

The effort was more apparent on the defensive end as WSU held the Wildcats to 40 percent shooting. Guard Rodney McGruder, who converted 5 of 6 3-pointers en route to 15 points, was an exception.

"I like the way we defended," Bone said. "I thought our focus was much better."

But Moore, who acknowledged that his timing with teammates is not quite right after missing the first five games with an injured left wrist, sees plenty of potential with this team.

"It's disappointing not to get the win," said Moore, who scored 10 points. "But I told my teammates we got a lot better with this game."

WSU, which has not defeated a top-five team since Oregon State in 1980, will have another opportunity against a ranked team when it hosts No. 24 Gonzaga on Wednesday.

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