WSU heads to Bay Area for its first CBI game

WASHINGTON STATE MISSED a trip to the Bay Area during the regular season, but the Cougars will make up for it when they play West Coast Conference's San Francisco at 7 p.m. Tuesday (TV: HDNet) in the first round of the 16-team College Basketball Invitational. It will mark the second consecutive postseason appearance for WSU and its first in the CBI.

The CBI, which enters its fifth season, is regarded as a third-tier postseason playoff behind the NCAA Tournament and National Invitational Tournament. But Pac-12 teams have fared well in the CBI with Oregon State (2009) and Oregon (2011) both winning it.

The Cougars (15-16) first will have to stop a balanced Dons' squad. San Francisco (20-13) has four players who average double-digit points, led by senior forward Angelo Caloiaro (14.2). The 6-foot-8 senior also converts 39.6 percent of his 3-pointers.

Here's a LINK to the complete CBI bracket.

San Francisco is a veteran-laden team as its four top scorers -- Caloiaro, senior guard Rashad Green (11.8 points per game) and juniors Perris Blackwell (12.7) and Michael Williams (10.8) -- all are upperclassmen. The 6-9 Blackwell complements Caloiaro's outside shooting prowess with his post presence. He shots 57.7 percent from the field. The team converts 47 percent of their shots, which ranks 38th nationally.

Outside of Caloiaro and Federal Way's Cole Dickerson, who converts 39.5 percent of his 3-pointers, the Dons do not have many perimeter shooters among their regulars.

That could be good news for WSU, which was eighth in the Pac-12 in 3-point field-goal percentage defense. Opponents made 36 percent of their shots from beyond the arc against the Cougars.

San Francisco also averaged just 33.3 rebounds per game, which ranked 233rd. That could benefit WSU, which ranked eighth in the Pac-12 in rebound margin (plus-1.5).

The Dons' best win, 66-65, came Feb. 18 against Gonzaga, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Their worst loss, 77-61, was Dec. 29 at Pepperdine. The Waves finished with a 10-19 record.

It will be the Cougars' first trip of the season to the Bay Area. WSU traditionally plays at both California and Stanford, but faced those schools only once this season.

If the Cougars win, they play North Dakota State or Wyoming at a to-be determined time March 19. Another victory could pit WSU against OSU -- the other Pac-12 team in the CBI -- for the fourth time this season in the semifinals. The Cougars won two of three contests this season against the Beavers.

The championship series, which begins March 26, is a best of three.

Last season, coach Ken Bone guided the Cougars to the NIT semifinals. Seniors Marcus Capers and Abe Lodwick and junior Reggie Moore all started in the 75-44 loss against Wichita State at Madison Square Garden. Moore tied DeAngelo Casto with a team-high nine points.

  • San Francisco was an NBA pipeline until the early 1980s. Center Bill Russell played for the Dons in the '50s before embarking on a Hall of Fame career with the Boston Celtics. Guard K.C. Jones also starred at San Francisco and later guided the Celtics to NBA titles in 1984 and '86 as their coach.

    The late Quintin Dailey averaged 14.1 points per game in a 10-year career for three teams, while Bill Cartwright was a standout center for both New York and Chicago, where he won three titles. All four also had ties to the Seattle Sonics. Russell and Jones both coached in Seattle, while Cartwright and Dailey closed out their NBA careers with the Sonics.

  • This marks only the second meeting between the schools. WSU won the previous game, 53-45, on Dec. 23, 1950, at San Francisco.

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