Cougars lay big egg in Big Apple

IT TOOK SIX hours for the Cougars to fly to New York -- and less than six minutes for them to crash land. Washington State's season ended on a horrific note as they fell 75-44 to Wichita State in the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament at historic Madison Square Garden.

The Shockers came out of the gate swinging and prevented the Cougars from scoring until nearly five minutes into the game. Most indicative of the Cougars' woes to come was that leading scorer Klay Thompson amassed two fouls before WSU even scored a point.

After averaging 27 points a game in the tournament, the junior guard finished the night with a season-low six points.

THE SHOCKERS (28-8), who made 48 percent of their shots, were favored by 2.5 points, but no one in Cougar Nation saw such a train wreck coming after a 69-66 win over Northwestern in the quarterfinal. Wichita State, though, pounded the glass so hard that the Cougars (22-13) seemed to be playing with splinters imbedded in their feet.


DeAngelo Casto and Reggie Moore led the Cougars with nine points each in the only game of the season where no WSU player scored in double digits. The Cougars made 29 percent of their shots, the second lowest tally of the season after the 69-43 loss to Oregon on Feb. 3, where they hit 26 percent, but Thompson at least scored 12 that night.

Tuesday was a different story. Thompson, the Pac-10's leading scorer, only played eight minutes of the opening half and scored two points. His troubles started on the defensive end, with the two early fouls, and he quickly got out of rhythm and committed two more fouls in the opening period. His only second-half points came on free throws as he shot 1 of 10 from the floor.

The Shockers outrebounded the Cougars 52-25, which included 17 offensive rebounds. WSU had five.

THE COUGARS NEVER led and their smallest deficit came early on, when the Shockers led 7-2. Reggie Moore's jumper put the Cougars on the board with 15:20 left in the half.

They got within eight late in the half, 22-14, but the Shockers scored on five straight possessions to go up by 13.

The Cougars were unable to get anything going in the second half as Thompson's 3-point attempts fell everywhere but in the hoop – including one off the shot clock – and at one point was seen on the bench rubbing his brow in frustration. Led by center Garrett Stutz's career-high 24 points, the Shockers got their 28th win of the season – the most in school history.

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