Cougars rebound with 61-55 win at OSU

WASHINGTON STATE HARDLY looked like the vastly more experienced team in the waning minutes. But even with the silly fouls and turnovers down the stretch, the Cougars won for the fourth time in the last five years at Oregon State with a 61-55 victory Saturday.

Perhaps the most surprising part of the outcome was that WSU (16-7 overall, 6-5 Pac-10) managed a Pac-10 road win for just the second time this season with minimal scoring from junior wing Klay Thompson. The conference's leading scorer — he averaged 21.9 points per game entering the contest — fouled out and had just six points on 2 of 7 shooting.

"I think it just shows how dynamic our team is," junior center DeAngelo Casto said during a postgame interview.

Casto was one of the players who helped compensate for the Cougars' outside-shooting woes. He scored on a spin move with 3 minutes, 53 seconds left to put WSU ahead 56-46.

But three turnovers created the press — the Cougars had a season-high 20 for the game — and a missed 3-pointers by freshman forward Patrick Simon allowed the Beavers (9-13, 4-7) to make it interesting late. OSU cut into the lead with consecutive layups on turnovers and later reduced its deficit to 56-53 with 47.2 seconds left on a pair of free throws by guard Calvin Haynes.

OSU later reduced its deficit to 57-55 with 20.9 seconds left when guard Roberto Nelson, who appeared to step on the baseline, raced past junior guard Faisal Aden for a layup.

ONE CHARACTERISTIC OF a veteran team is being able to make its free throws, though. Aden, who scored 10 points, made the final four free throws of the game to give WSU its first season sweep of the Beavers since 2007-08. The Cougars converted 18 of 23 free throws, while OSU was just 11 of 23 at the stripe. WSU point guard Reggie Moore converted 6 of 7 free throws en route to a team-high 14 points.

"We found other ways to manufacture points," WSU coach Ken Bone said in a postgame interview. "One way was being aggressive and getting to the free-throw line."

Sandwiched between those free throws was sophomore Jared Cunningham, who had 12 points, stumbling to the floor and being called for traveling. The Beavers start no seniors.

Bone, whose team also does not start a senior, elected to go with a young starting lineup as he replaced redshirt junior Abe Lodwick with sophomore Brock Motum.

"They play a lot of zone and Brock has really good basketball instincts," Bone said. "That's why we went with him to start with."

The move seemed to work early as Motum was the beneficiary on multiple Thompson assists. While Thompson struggled from the field, he had a team-high five assists. Many came in the first half, including one to Lodwick with 5:11 remaining before intermission. Lodwick finished off a three-point play to give the Cougars a 31-15 edge.

BUT WSU STAGNATED from the field against the multiple zone schemes — it made just 11 of 28 shots during the first half — and saw its lead reduced to 32-27 at halftime.

It looked every worse for the Cougars when they opened the second half with turnovers on their first four possessions.

"We played very lethargic and were not competing like we need to," said Bone, noting that WSU has either played a game or had practice each of the last 10 days. "Down deep you really are wiped out and fatigued."

The Cougars seemed to pull through that on the defensive end, though. In addition to holding the Beavers to 41.2 percent shooting, WSU outrebounded them 42-30.

"They drill in our heads to rebound," said Casto, who had 10 rebounds. "That's something we went out and really tried to do."

And it allowed WSU to respond after Thursday's 69-43 loss at Oregon.

"This is a definite must-need win," Casto said. "It was kind of a statement game for us."

But Bone said the Cougars, who equaled their conference-win total from last season with the victory, will need more of that if they expect to play in the postseason. They return to Friel Court, where they are 4-1 against Pac-10 teams, at 7 p.m. Thursday against Stanford and 3 p.m. Saturday versus California.

"We're skating on thin ice," Bone said. "We've got to continue to battle if we're going to get into postseason play."


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