The Washington State University Cougar men's hoop team stayed with the 2009-10 NCAA finalist Butler in the first half, but then the Bulldogs showed why they were able to make their run to the title game last year with a dominating effort in the second half that included a 15-0 run as they cruised to a comfortable 84-68 win over the Cougars in the final of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. With the loss, the Cougars fall to 10-2 overall.
The two teams battled each other closely for much of the first half with neither squad able to put much distance between the other in the first 20 minutes. Wazzu built up as much as a four-point lead at 16-12 after a dunk from junior forward DeAngelo Casto with 10:51 remaining in the half and mere minutes later, Butler was able to grab as much as a five-point first half lead at 25-20 with 8:12 left in the half. But the half ended nearly where it began - nearly even - with the Bulldogs holding a slim 40-38 lead going into the locker room.
But then it all fell apart for the Cougars and Butler showed exactly why they were able to make it all the way to the NCAA title game last year. With only a half left to determine the champion of the tourney, the Bulldogs put on a blistering 15-0 run early in the second half to all but seal the victory. Wazzu made a couple mini-runs of six points apiece but were never able to get the Bulldog lead back under double digits and Butler cruised in for a comfortable win to capture the tourney title.
Wazzu shooting guard Klay Thompson was the only player in double figures as he scored a game-high 31 points while he, Casto and sophomore Brock Motum all had five rebounds for the Cougars.
- Thompson - who made the all-tourney team - was 10-of-18 in the game but the rest of the Cougar team was only 14-of-41.
Washington State University next opens the Pac-10 season against UCLA at 8PM on Wednesday, December 29, in Los Angeles
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