Cougars turn UW over in win

PULLMAN - The 270th Apple Cup was supposed to be a showdown between Washington's Isaiah Thomas and Washington State's Klay Thompson - two of the leading candidates for Pac-10 Player of the Year. Thompson held up his end, but he got a lot of help as WSU beat No. 17 UW 87-80 Sunday night at Beasley Coliseum.

With the loss, Washington (15-5, 7-2) finished the first half of Pac-10 play tied with Arizona at the top, and have the tiebreaker over the Wildcats due to their 17-point win in Seattle last week.

"It could be worse," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "We could be in third or fourth, but we are still tied with first. And that is with the schedule not necessarily in our favor in that we played 5 on the road in this first half as opposed to the four we will play in the second half, and I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half."

Thompson's 25 paced the Cougars (15-6, 5-4), but it was what Washington State did when he was out with four fouls - as well as teammate DeAngelo Casto, who was saddled with his fourth foul just 104 seconds into the second half - that not only kept the Cougars in the game, but allowed them to pull away at crucial times.

"Even before they had those fouls, we had opportunities to make shots," UW point guard Isaiah Thomas said after the game. "We had open shots, we had layups that we just missed. The big key is we didn't get any stops. You can trade baskets but if they're up they're going to end up winning, and they did that."

Rainier Beach product Reggie Moore certainly did his part, ramming home an alley-oop pass from Thompson to put WSU up 11 with 16:29 left in the game. It capped off a 10-1 run for the Cougars to start the second half. When Thompson went to the bench with his fourth foul, it was Moore who had two converted and-ones after two made three-pointers by the Huskies. Every time Washington got the lead down to five or six points, Washington State seemed to respond with plays to keep the Huskies at arm's length.

Reserve guard Faisal Aden finished with 15 points for Washington State, but it was his three-point dagger with 2:16 remaining to put the game out of reach. His shot finished a furious run by the Huskies, who had trimmed the deficit to six points by the 4:55 mark of the game, but missed five-straight shots, including three of their game-high 31 3-point attempts.

"We had chances to win, chances to cut the lead, get the lead," Thomas said. "We had so many chances, we just didn't capitalize."

Romar said that all but three of the long-range attempts were very good looks, but outside of Ross' 4-8 effort, the rest of the Huskies' sharpshooters went 7-23.

Thomas tried in vain to keep his team close, leading the Huskies in scoring with 19 points, but his first made shot came with 6:18 left in the game. He made his living at the free throw line, scoring 11 points there, but he also turned the ball over seven times, a season high.

"It won't happen again," Thomas said of his miscues.  "Short memory and on to the next one."

Holiday added 16 points and 11 rebounds, his second double-double of the season, while Terrence Ross added 14 and Scott Suggs 12 for UW, who shot 37 percent for the game and 35.5 percent from deep.

The Huskies dominated the rebounding game, pulling down 46 to the Cougars' 32, but it was UW doubling up WSU in the turnover battle - 24 to 12 - that ultimately led to their undoing. The Cougars were clearly willing to give the glass to the Huskies, but they weren't going to let UW run either; to that end they gave up no fast break points the entire game.

They also limited Washington forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning to a season-low six points on 1-8 shooting from the field. When he did get the ball near the key, he was always contested, regardless of whether or not Casto was in the game.

"I don't know if we looked in there enough," Holiday said about involving the Huskies' big men more. "I think we should have went in there a little more. I mean Casto in or out, we have to be able to use the inside-out game because we've always had that advantage when the inside's working we can use the outside, when the outside's working we can use the inside. So, playing off of that I think we could have done that a little more."

It all spelled disaster for the Huskies, who put in the effort required to win on the road, but certainly didn't do the little things it takes to win an emotionally-charged rivalry game.

"We couldn't quite get over the hump," Romar said. "We had our opportunities, but any game you turn the ball over that many times, it's going to make it a little more difficult for yourselves. If you do it on the road, it's going to be even harder.

"You have to give (WSU) credit; we didn't get shots at the rim as much because we turned it over."

Washington found holding onto the ball difficult all night long, forced into making difficult passes against Washington State's 2-3 zone. The Cougars used their length and tenacity to close down lanes, deflect feeds and basically disrupt anything the Huskies tried to do offensively. Only Darnell Gant had a positive assist/turnover ratio for the Huskies, while Thompson was the only Cougar out of six to have an assist/turnover ratio of less than one.

As a result of their defensive pressure - as well as lack of an answer from Washington on their own end defensively - WSU was able to maintain their lead while their stars were on the bench.

"Well Isaiah (Thomas) was stressing early with who was throwing negligent passes, you know soft passes, lob passes, were never getting picked off," Gant said. "And people just weren't being strong with the ball. When you catch the ball, you have to be strong with it; you have to know there could be someone around that could poke at it from behind or whatever. And they just got after us at defense. And we were throwing soft passes and they were picking them off and getting fast break points."

And when Thompson re-entered the game, he continued to put on the pressure, scoring nine points to lead his team down the stretch.

"Thompson came right back in and picked up right where he left off, and that really hurt us," added Gant.

As the final buzzer sounded, the members of the Zzu Cru - Washington State's student section - poured onto Friel Court.

"We've played in places where it's been a loud crowd, been on the road, stuff like that," Holiday said when asked if the crowd played a factor at all in the loss. "I just think we were thinking, you know, we need to hurry up and do something. Hurry up and do this, hurry up and pass the ball like that. That's what I can say for my situations. And then sometimes not being strong or smart with the ball."

"For them to storm the floor, I'll remember that when they come over here," Thomas added after the game.

Points: Thomas 19, Holiday 16, Ross 14, Suggs 12, Gant 9, Bryan-Amaning 6, N'Diaye 2, Overton 2
Rebounds: Holiday 12, Bryan-Amaning 11, Gant 7, N'Diaye 5, Suggs 3, Thomas 2, Overton 2, Ross 2, TEAM 2
Assists: Thomas 5, Gant 3, Holiday 2, Suggs 2
Blocks: Bryan-Amaning 2, N'Diaye 2, Gant 1
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